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India {hy Madame Verestchagin) — continued. 

Part II. Cashmere — Ladak (continued). 

l.{c(ynt.) From Srinagur to the Frontier of Ladak . . 1 
II. Through Ladak to the Frontier of Spiti . . .12 

III. Through Spiti to Simla " . . 75 

Reminiscences op the Russo-Turkish War . . .113 

L On the Danube, 1877 116 

II. The Passage of the Balkans— Skobeleff ... 180 

Skobblepp 256 

i. s. turgenieff 276 

In Siberia . . . 303 

Some Thoughts upon Religions 3l7 

Inconveniences op TRAVEiLnsro in Russia . . . 323 








THE WIPE OP PIVE HUSBANDS . . . . . . . 27 




YAZ-CARAYAN . . . 69 





8AYCE (groom) 91 






THE SPY 149 









INDIA— contimced 

vol.. fr. B 


PART II.— CASHMERE— LADAK.-co/i<i7?we(/. 

CHAPTER 1.— continued. 

The man at whose hut I had dried my clothes 
the evening before came to tell me that his bro- 
ther had been bitten by a snake while engaged 
in gathering brushwood As he was more than 
fifteen miles distant, I did not go to him myself, but 
sent Lodi with medicines from our homeopathic 
medicine-chest, and accurate instructions for the 
sick man. The man had not observed the snake 
till the moment that it bit liim, but could not kill 
it, because his eyes began to grow dim. Luckily, 
his brother was not far off and dragged him home. 
Lodi gave him the medicine to take, and ap- 
plied a lotion to the wound on his toe after he had 
bound his foot very firmly above it. At first no 
blood showed ; then it began to flow, and the sick 
man became easier. After a second bandafrincr he 

o c 


went to sleep, and on the following day was quite 
well. He assured ns that the snake which had 
bitten him was one of the most poisonous kind. 

One of our bearers complained of pains in the 
body, loss of blood, and other troubles ; so that we 
had to send the poor man back. For the last few 
days we have had frightfully bad weather in the 
mountains. Above us and below it rained, and 
high up it snowed. One day, after heavy rain, 
the mountains were of a perfectly yellow colour, 
and when the sun set the yellow light disappeared 
in a grey mist. 

The observation of the colours of the mountains 
at different hours of the day and night, and in dif- 
ferent kinds of weather, was extremely interesting. 
After a fall of snow during the day everything was 
white. The snowy peaks of the mountains could 
not be distinguished from the air. At evening, 
liowever, they were flooded with rosy light and 
threw long blue shadows. A storm of thunder 
and lightning in the mountains is a magnificent 
scene ; preferable at a distance, however, especially 
as we were still without the tent we had ordered, 
and had very little protection against the weather. 

Our joy, therefore, was not slight when the tent 


arrived, for which speedy consignment we had to 
thank the good- nature of the Resident. The tent 
was made of a double thickness of stuff, so that 
we had nothing more to fear from these beautiful 
storms with their accompaniment of thunder and 

I was carefully sitting working in front of the 
tent, when suddenly our cook, Lal-chan, and tlie 
sayce (groom), Rasaka, appeared before me, com- 
plaining of each other with angry looks. The 
cook charged the sayce with having torn his 
clothes, and the sayce charged the cook with 
having bitten his hand. They had already beaten 
one another before this, and now they wished a 
settlement. Rasaka begged, besides, to be allowed 
to go back to Srinagur ; but naturally he did not 
expect to have his request granted. I investigated 
the matter, and discovered that they slept near one 
another, and that the sayce in his sleep had pushed 
the cook a little, and the latter had promptly 
responded with his teeth. Our washerman bore 
witness that they had come to blows in the night, 
because the sayce was supposed to have laid his 
foot on the cook's nose. I attempted to reconcile 
the opponents, and had the satisfaction of seeing 


them raake friends in a short time. The cook 
even borrowed some money from his former enemy 
shortly afterwards, apparently to cement tlieir 
friend sliip. 

Of these twoEasaka was the more quarrelsome 
and the less trustworthy. Against the cook, who 
Avas of a peaceable nature, there is nothing to be 
said except that he had already frequently treated 
us to joints and sauces which were simply uneat- 
able. Our washerman was a most foolish, excit- 
able, and good-natured being, extraordinarily small 
of stature, and unsavoury of smell. The fact of 
one of our hens having for several days running 
laid an egg in his bed caused him great dehght, 
because the superstitious creature counted it a 
presage of good fortune. 

We soon had to take leave of the forests, which 
disappeared behind the station of Baltal. As if to 
bid it farewell, I strolled through the thick pine 
forest with its now doubly precious fragrance. 
Trees were already scarce near Baltal ; a little level 
spot close to the river served us as a site for our 
tent. From this point to Metawul, the mountain 
pass, which reaches a height of 11,300 feet, it is 
58 miles. 


The road began to be very dangerous, especi- 
ally for the horses. Accordingly I went often 
on foot, in order not to fall down a precipice to 
the joy of the hawks and eagles. A short time 
before a horse had fallen down and had become 
the prey of the birds ; eagles, hawks, and ravens 
were pecking at the body. A number of eagles 
were hovering above us, probably in the expecta- 
tion of one of us falling over. Above us on the 
road there still lay the bleached and polished 
skeleton of some animal. 

When we reached the head of the pass, each of 
our people threw a stone on a great heap we found 
there, made in honour of the god of the mountain. 
As our horses were very badly groomed that day, 
my husband bade the groom throw on a double 
quantity as a propitiatory sacrifice. 

The descent was accomplished in the snow. 
We made a halt on the only dry spot in the 
valley. All around the snow was rapidly melting, 
and everywhere flowed streams of water. During 
the night two horses ran away from us, and it was 
no small trouble to catch them again. Besides 
other articles of food, our stock of onions had 
come to an end; but we found some wild ones 
growing here, with not at all a bad flavour, and in 
such quantities that they only needed gathering. 


The road was dangerous ; the horses were con- 
tinually sinking into the snow, and often also in 
deep mud. I nearly fell from my horse, which 
slipped on the ice. At midday snow fell again. 

We reached the resting-place on the river 
Minimarek, at the foot of a huge glacier, one of 
the most beautiful and regularly formed that we 
saw. Our tent would have been pitched in the 
neighbourhood of a little hut, but its occupant, 
being frightened at our presence, placed in front 
of his door a dead horse which infected the whole 
place — a decided and effective means, which he 
had certainly not made use of for the first time, 
for when we set forth again on our way we heard 
behind us the delighted laugh of the dwellers in 
the hut. 

My husband stayed behind to make a sketch of 
the glacier, but I rode on about seven or eight 
miles further; turning back again, however, be- 
cause otherwise it would have been too far for 
him to go back there for the continuation of his 
work. Also, there was in the neighbourhood a 
little level place, and water close at hand. 


The sky over our lieads was extraordinarily 
blue — so wonderfully blue that I was convinced 
that if my husband were to paint it just as it was 
people in Europe would say it was unnatural. In 
the morning there was a frost, and the water was 
frozen. Otherwise the weather was fine, and the 
sketch of the glacier made rapid progresp. The 
huntsman invited us to come on a hunt for wild- 
goats ; but for that one has to go far and to climb 
high, so my husband could not make up his mind 
to go, especially as a goat-chase not only takes up 
a great deal of time, but requires a great deal of 
patience and perseverance. One afternoon, close 
by the tent, I almost ran against a wild- goat. We 
were both so completely astonished and startled 
at this unexpected meeting that we stood for a 
long time immovable and looked at one another. 
Then I tried to get to the tent as quickly as pos- 
sible, and sent Lodi out with the gun ; but no trace 
of the goat was any longer to be seen. Here we 
killed the sheep which we had with us. The bearers 
threw the skin into the fire, singeing off the wool; 
then they divided the burnt skin among them and 
ate it. It must be owned they had good diges- 


The bearers are really becoming unbearable, 
they are so lazy, and are always taking too much 
brandy. One of them, a one-eyed man, was particu- 
larly barefaced : he came a second time in company 
with one of the idiots to demand money on some 
])retext, though this time fortune did not favour 
the Cyclops. My husband lost patience, and, in- 
stead of money for brandy, gave him a sharp box 
on the ear, which made both him and his comrade 
bound back ; and they hurried back to their com- 
panions in order to tell them the melancholy result 
of the business. 

My husband shot some wild-pigeons here, which 
made some variety in our scanty meiiu. 

There are plenty of marmots here. They sit 
up on their hind-legs, rushing off to their holes 
at the approach of any danger. There they again 
sit up in the same position, consider the matter 
for an instant, and then disappear with lightning 
rapidity, so that a bullet will seldom stop them. 
Their holes are very deep, and always have several 

I saw here for the first time some yaks, be- 
longing to a corn-caravan, which were grazing 
along the road. 

Our next halting-place was about two miles 
distant from the glacier, near the river where 


I had already made a halt before. The distance 
from here to a place called Dras, which lies with- 
in the border of the province of Ladak, is made 
without another halt. 

On the way there we passed a perfectly per- 
pendicular rock whicli rises to a height of about 
2,000 feet above a precipice. The road does not 
pass over the rock itself, but over a kind of little 
bridge which rests upon projecting beams like an 
open gallery. We got off the horses and led them 
along the shaking pathway by the bridles ; my 
husband only remained on his horse — and what 
did I see ! — my discreet pony, which he was riding, 
took it into his head to play pranks and to leap 
about upon these boards. My husband confessed 
to me later that his heart was in his mouth. Lean- 
ing himself against the rock, he succeeded in get- 
ting off the saddle and in checking the untimely 
gaiety of the animal. The least awkward move- 
ment at this point might have cost him his life ; all 
the more so that a single glance downwards is 
enough to make one dizzy. 



We had heard so much on our way of the cit}^ of 
Dras, in Ladak, that we were quite disappointed 
when we came in sight of it : a miserable, uninter- 
esting little fortress and a few huts, where not 
only are no fowls and no mutton to be obtained, 
but not even twigs with which to make a lire. 

Here we saw the Ladak ponies. They are 
small, and have long hair all over their bodies, 
especially on the underside. The spring (it was 
May now) had robbed them of a great part of their 
winter coat, and the hair hung in isolated bunches, 
which gave them a very wild appearance. My hus- 
band sketched a couple of these horses. Our hunts- 
man found an opportunity here of distinguishing 
himself. He imparted to us the solemn announce- 
ment that he had seen a pheasant near ; and we 
watched how he crept to the tree on which the 
rare bird was sitting. 

He killed and brought us — a magpie ! — of the 
same kind as those we have in Europe. I ex- 


plained to him that we could not eat it ; and thoiigli 
lie assured us that the flesh was of a very good 
fiavour, and that all English gentlemen ate it, we 
lianded it over to the dogs, to tlie great disappoint- 
ment of the huntsman. 

This place lies, as already mentioned, in Ladak 
proper, and the type of the inhabitants begins here 
to resemble that of the Mongolians. They wear 
goatskins on their backs ; the women decorate 
themselves with silver ornaments, and wear head- 
dresses made of black cloth. The hair is plaited 
in small plaits, and among the younger women is 
plastered down on the head with grease ; among the 
older ones, dishevelled and matted together. The 
want of cleanliness becomes more apparent as one 
penetrates further into the mountains. The women 
seem even to surpass the men in this particular. 
From this point one enters the region where, as 
w^e were informed, polyandry begins, and one can 
meet with women so lucky as to possess as many 
as live husbands. 

In some parts the population consists of Mus- 
sulman Shiites. For instance, in Tasligan, which is 
the next place after Dras, all the inhabitants are 
Sliiites, and resemble Jews in the type of their faces, 


a resemblance which is enhanced by the long 
ringlets which the men wear on their foreheads. 

The houses, which have a fairly good appearance, 
are built of stones and mud, the people living above, 
while the cattle have their quarters underneath. 
Close to the village stands a shabby little mosque. 

On a bush in the neighbourhood of the village 
hunop a lock of woman's hair and an ofFerino^ to 
the divinity. My husband joked about this, and 
declared that the hair must have been offered up 
to the god by some woman who had obtained the 
trophy in a fight with another. 

The Mussulmans who live here do not seem to 
be any less superstitious than the Buddhists. Like 
them they carry amulets sewn on to their garments, 
often quite a number of them ; with this distinc- 
tion, however, that the Buddhists obtain their little 
bits of paper inscribed with prayers and curses 
from Lhassa in Thibet, while the Shiites have theirs 
manufactured by Mullahs who come from India. 
One such distributor of heavenly favour we saw on 
our way, not far from the village, writing amulets 
for the surrounding believers. The holy man gave 
us a glance of great disfavour. 

Eain is not frequent here ; even daring the 
violent storms we had some time ago on the gla- 
cier it was quite fine here. We were told that tlio 



rain-bringing monsoon was kept off by the high 
mountain range which we had left behind us. My 
husband here also drew some typical figures, and 
shot a quantity of pigeons and partridges. 

Already we experienced the pleasant feeling 
which travellers in sandy, stony, and ill-wooded 
countries receive from their arrival at a resting- 
place where water is at hand and vegetation plen- 
tiful. The latter — it may have been only a delu- 
sion — appeared in such a place fresher and of an 
mtenser green. 

From tlie village of Tashgal the view of the 
mountain which lay in front of us was certainly 
beautiful, but, it must be confessed, depressing ; for 
perfectly bare mountain chains and sandstone rocks, 
for the most part yellow, sometimes, however, 
brown, lay before us, one chain after another, as 
if in the scenes of a theatre. One could hardly 
believe that there could be any passage between 
those dark masses. 

We continued our road on the bank of a little 
stream, which mingled with the muddy waters of 
the river Tras, but even then kept its own clear 
stream distinct for a long way. At this point and 
further down the banks of the river we saw quantities 


of roses, sometimes growing in great bushes ; and also 
some wonderfully beautiful yellow roses. Amidst 
the entire want of vegetation on both sides of the 
road, and on the sandstone rocks which overhung 
the mountain-stream, these roses imparted a charm 
to the scene which it is not easy to describe. 

In some places near the river enormous pieces 
of good white marble are to be seen. On the way 
are a great many water trenches, which is quite 
natural, for nothing will grow in this sandy soil 
without artificial watering. Without seeing the 
water it is easy to trace the course of the canals by 
observing the fresh green of the vegetation. 

It is difficult to get fuel here, or food either, 
especially cow's milk. At Dras they swore to me 
by all they held sacred that the milk I bought of 
them, and which was of a bluish colour, was cow's 
milk ; however, it afterwards proved to be goat's 
milk, which is perhaps very wholesome, but not 
nearly equal to cow's milk in taste. 

The road here is very dangerous in places, 
and a horse which stumbles inevitably falls straight 
into the river. Human habitations become more 
frequent. The natives seem to have great trouble 
in protecting their dwellings from the rivers, which 
constantly change their bed. 

• * ^ 



At the station of Karjil we were very courte- 
ously received, apparently through the recommen- 
dation of the Commissioner of Ladak, Captain 
Molloy, to whom my husband had sent his letter of 
introduction from General Walker. On our arrival 
we both received garlands of roses, which, accord- 
ing to the Indian mode of greeting, were placed 
round our necks. However, this courtesy did not 
prevent the magistrate of the village from sending 
us in so high a bill that my husband felt obliged 
to make an energetic protest, after which the prices 
fell immediately. 

Karjil is a village with a small fortress ; there 
is actually an inn there for travellers ; it may 
readily be imagined, however, that we preferred to 
put up our tent. My husband bought a few native 
costumes, in which we found several tahsmans 

The whole place where we stopped was made 
dirty by EusselFs caravan, which had passed by 
there only a short time before ; there was also 
another caravan from Yarkand halting close by. 
We bought a little he goat here, which our washer- 
man undertook to look after ; and at every station 
he was on the look-out for a milch-goat to supply 
his little charge with food. 

A storm had been threatening, but it passed 



over ; though it still promised to rain, for we saw 
a rainbow. 

From here to Shergol is nearly eighty miles. 
We rejoiced at the sight of the little stone walls 


built here and there in honour of the deity, as at 
the sight of old friends. In Sikkim, where we had 
first seen them, they had prayers written on stone 
slabs ; here, they were simply on unhewn stones. 
There are fewer carvings on the stones here. A 


he station of Tcherjil we saw for the first time 
monuments to the honour of distinguished people 
and saints. All round the lower part of them ran 
bas-reliefs coarsely made of clay, and painted. 
The figures are very misshapen, with clumsy heads. 
From here the country beghis to be mainly Buddhist, 
although part of the inhabitants of this village are 

It is interesting to trace the progress of this 
or that religion in these countries. Buddhism, 
driven out of the valleys, found a retreat in the 
Himalayas, where it was driven back further and 
further into the mountains by Brahminism and 
Islamism. The Mussulmans of Cashmere of the 
Sunnite sect absorb the Mussulmans of the Shiite 
sect on the borders of Ladak ; the Shiites, in their 
turn, absorb the Buddhists who dwell next to them. 
I say ' absorb ' because Shiites sometimes go over 
to the sect of the Sunnites, but never vice versd : 
and it sometimes happens, as we heard on inquiry, 
that Buddhists become Shiites. 

' During the eleven years that I have lived here,' 
the tikodar, or elder, told us, ' three such con- 
versions have taken place, but I never heard of a 
Shiite becoming a Buddhist.' One must accordingly 



suppose that the most vigorous and aggressive 
religion here is the Sunnite form of Islamism. 



It finds proselytes among the professors of all 
other religions, and absorbs (in a spiritual sense) 


the Shiites tliat come in contact with it. The 
Shiites, on their side, find proselytes among the 
Buddhists, whom they slowly but irresistibly drive 
farther and farther into the mountains. One may 
conclude that the Mussulmans, especially the Sun- 
nites, will in time di'ive Buddhism quite out of the 
mountains ; it certainly will not happen very soon, 
however, because the proper centre of Buddhism 
in Thibet is not far off on tlie one side, and the great 
Buddhist people of China give them a strong 
moral support on the other. 

In Shergol a very interesting Buddhist monas- 
tery is built on a rock, with a stuccoed and painted 
fagade and balcony. The interior of the church is 
poor — there is not even a praying-machine ; the 
lama is constantly employed in working in the 
fields, so that a peasant showed us the church and 
took us through the cells. The influence of Brah- 
minism asserts itself in the pictures on the wall, 
which display, besides the god of war on a white 
horse, various other deities with numerous heads, 
hands, and feet. 

The whole district is now raised considerably 
above the valley of the river, but obviously was 
once itself the river bed, the subsoil consisting en- 


tirely of river-drift. By the sharply defined lines 
upon the rocky sides of this basin, one can perceive 
that during the course of centuries it has gradually 
become higher and higher. 

In the mountains all round, iron, copper, sulphur, 
and graphite are found. Among the natives we 
saw ornaments of coral and pearls. 

My husband here made some sketches which 
represented yaks carrying salt. He wished also to 
draw the lama who came to visit us from the 
neighbouring convent ; the unfavourable weather, 
however, obliged the worthy priest to go home again. 
When he and his two companions were gone, Lodi 
observed the loss of a teacup, and sent to ask 
the guest as he went home whether some of his 
party had not taken the cup with them by mistake. 
Of course he received an answer in the negative. 

Our postillion, one of our bearers, who had 
very long legs, and had therefore been entrusted 
with the commission, came back from Srinagur with 
various provisions. He told us, among other pieces 
of news, that the Maharajah of Cashmere had re- 
ceived a steamboat from the English Government, 
and in return had made a great many presents of 
shawls in Simla. The messenger also reported that 


the Eesident, Henderson, was going away from 
Srinagur on a journey ; from which it followed that 
we should not be able to call upon him so soon as 
we had intended. 

We travelled on and soon passed a convent, the 
lama of which came out to meet us. The convent 
stands on an enormously high rock, and looks more 
like a fortress than a place devoted to religion ; only 
the daubs of red and yellow colour on it show the 
purpose of the building. My husband, who had 
scaled the rock with Lodi, informed me that the 
way up was very difficult and even dangerous. 

We also passed by a huge stone on which the 
figure of Buddha with four hands is chiselled, 
stretching from top to bottom. In one hand he 
holds a basket, in the other rings and various orna- 
ments. This figure reminds one very much of those 
in the grottos of Adjunta and Ellore, near Bombay. 

We again made a halt opposite a glacier. 

On the following day we went over a pass 
thirteen thousand feet high, where there was no 
snow, for the snow line is not lower here than 
from nineteen to twenty thousand feet. After we 
had crossed the pass, we rested in a hut by a 
spring, and then went on. The heat was almost 


unbearable, and we reached our next station, 
Tchargol, with great effort. Near the little village 
of Korbu, on the way, we saw a great many 
tchitens. Altogether there are a good many 
villages about here, most of them lying high. 
There are also to be found in the district the 
remains of more or less ancient buildings on wdld, 
precipitous rocks. The country, in spite of its 
bleak and inhospitable character, is yet not without 
a wild, original kind of beauty. Although we 
suffered much from the heat, I was much delighted 
with the various scenes, of which my husband took 

In order to protect myself from the heat I 
hung a damp cloth under my hat. I do not know 
whether it was this cloth, or the heat, but some- 
thing made me quite ill. When we at last made a 
halt at Korbu near the river, between two steep 
rocks, I was seized with trembling, my head 
began to ache, and, in a word, all the symptoms of 
sunstroke appeared. I immediately took some 
quinine, but was no better on the following day ; 
and when I attempted to leave the tent, I fell down 
in a faint. My husband was much alarmed, and 
called the bearers to carry me back into the tent. 
When the bearers, so my husband told me 
afterwards, saw me lying , motionless and deadly 


pale they began, after the Eastern custom, to whine 
and howl loudly. 

I soon returned to consciousness, but was not 
better till we discovered the cause of the constant 
pain ; which was that the sunbeams had pene- 
trated through the roof of the tent, and were 
beating all the time upon my head. The more 
quietly I lay the more powerful was their effect. 
As soon as an extra covering had been laid on the 
roof of the tent I became easier. Notwithstand- 
ing this, as we did not exactly know^ the cause of 
the illness, and as we were afraid that it might 
be due to the height oi this place (about nine 
thousand feet), we determined to take the precau- 
tion of retracing our steps a little. I was put into 
a kind of improvised palanquin, our people were 
collected together, and we went back over the 
pass. We paused to rest at a height of seven 
thousand feet. As soon as I was quite recovered, 
we continued our onward journey. During the 
time of my illness at Korbu my husband drew a 
very interesting old woman, who had no less 
than five husbands. She was rather stout ; her 
grey locks, which she evidently never or, at any 
rate, very seldom combed, fluttering round her 
head in great disorder. She wore a hood on 
which was a large turquoise, a dress of black stufl 



woven by herself, and a goatskin over her 

-* * 

We approached the station of Lama Yuru, and 
made a halt by the way on the top of the pass at 
KiituUa. We now found ourselves at a height of 
more than eighteen thousand feet above the level 
of the sea. Still, neither we nor our people were 
troubled with pain in the head during this time ; 
the quietness of the march, uninterrupted by 
anything disagreeable, probably contributed to 
this result. We are, for this and other reasons, of 
the opinion that headache, sickness, and other 
symptoms which come on at great heights, are 
just as much due to exhaustion and nervousness 
as to the state of the atmosphere. Of course I 
do not speak of very great altitudes, during the 
ascent of which haemorrhage and oppression of the 
head and other phenomena appear. 

My husband and Lodi shot some blackcock here. 
As it turned out, it was a good thing we had made 
a halt half-way, for it was still a Jong way to Lama 
Yuru. In the distance glimmered the village, 
which is perched on the top of a tall perpendicular 
rock. A little further, almost on the road, is a 
long row of tchitens, on which here and there runs 


the usual inscription in letters almost the height of 
a man — ' Om mani padmi hum.' 

We crossed the Indus, rushing along in a 
muddy stream. Near the point at which we 
crossed rises a little fortress, which is placed 
so as to command the level plain, and not the 
interior of the mountains, probably on account of 
the inroads of Indian conquerors in earlier days. 

The country, as one travels through it, is pretty, 
the sandstone sometimes yellow, sometimes red or 
dark blue, and sometimes even almost black. The 
colouring all round offers an interesting subject 
for sketches, though my husband was hurrying on 
to Lee, and we continued our journey, only halting, 
for refreshment and rest at night. He made a 
sketch of the village of Lama Yuru, however. 

At Lee a place was assigned to us in a fruit 
garden, and the Eesident there sent us tchapprassis 
(messengers) to escort us. 

European women have apparently never been 
seen here before, for in tlie villages the natives ran 
together and gazed at me, as if I were a strange 
animal. We saw here, I may remark by the way, 
a few pretty natives ; their hair is black as tar, 
})laited in very small tails ; on their heads they 
wear a narrow headdress embroidered with pearls 
and turquoises. Their long jackets are made of 


black and blue stuff. The older women, who wear 
goatskins, occupy themselves in watching the flocks 
and teasing the wool, a business which the men 
also do not despise ; in many places it is chiefly 
done by the men. 

Late in the evening we reached the village of 
Hemis, near which is a large convent. In this 
place polyandry flourishes. In a family of several 
brothers there is usually only one wife among them. 
The head of the family is the eldest brother ; his 
rights come first, then those of the second brother, 
and so on. 

It sometimes happens that the wife buys her 
freedom from the eldest brother with a horse, a 
cow, or something of the sort, with his consent ; 
but such occurrences are rare, because they involve 
the necessity of the younger brother, with whom 
she wishes to live, building a separate house and 
setting up housekeeping on his own account. It 
must generally be supposed that the chief reason 
for polyandry is the poverty of the people, because, 
as the price of a bride is not small, the family saves 
considerably by having one wife among them. It 
follows naturally that the women are overworked 
and age very quickly. One cannot easily form 
an idea of the ugliness of the older women, and 
especially of the very old ones. The reason of 


their very impleasing appearance is the excessive 
amount of work they do. What a strain must be 
placed upon their strength by the rearing of their 
numerous children ! Under such circumstances 
can there be any of the coquetry and jealousy 
which reigns among our European women, who have 
only one husband ? 

We endeavoured to find out w^hether there was 
any jealousy or quarrelling among the brotJiers on 
account of their common wife, but the people whom 
w^e asked did not appear to understand what it was 
we wished to know. 

'How can there be any quarrelling if the eldest 
brother is the chief of the house ? ' 

' But the second brother ? ' 

' He is the second in the household.' 

' And the youngest ? ' 

' He is also the youngest in the house.' 

' Does it never happen that the wife prefers the 
youngest to the eldest ? ' 

' How could that be possible ! One cannot 
imagine such a thing.' 

However, they owned a little shamefacedly that, 
especially of late years, quarrels on this account 
had taken place, which had been decided by an 
English sahib (gentleman). This they appeared to 
regard as particularly disgraceful. In such a state 


of affairs one or two women out of each family go ta 
a convent, and the daughters of poor parents are 
obhged to make up their minds to single blessedness. 
We paid a visit to the monastery, which was six 
miles off. The road is very difficult, and in many 
places we almost rolled down the precipice. 

The building is large and of an original appear- 
ance. Fifty monks live there with a great number 
of pupils. Each monk has a separate cell with a 
very small balcony. There is ample opportunity 
}iere for a life of contemplation, but the desire to 
satisfy the wants of the lower nature seems to havQ 
obtained the upper hand. « 

At our arrival the lamas crept out, like rats out 
of their holes. They gazed at us with wild and 
unfriendly looks ; only the eldest of them, a stout 
red-cheeked man, who seemed to be the house- 
keeper, showed himself more communicative. 

In the centre of the building rises the temple, 
which is lighted from above, and is coarsely 
painted in a new style. Behind the altar is the 
statue of Sakya-Muni (Buddha), and on one side of 
this figure some divinity or other, with a tower on 
his back and many hands. There also are placed 
the clothes of the oldest lama of the convent, now 
dead some four years, and beside whose grave are 
daily placed food and drink. They showed us the 




chamber where this hima formerly dwelt ; the 
figure of the dead man is placed there, and before 
it every monk who passes by falls on his knees, and 
prays. This lama is immortal, though this time 
his new birth is long delayed. The worthy lamas 
have already asked many times at Thibet whether 
the new birth of their chief has not taken place 
yet. An answer, however, has not come — perhaps 
because the great lamas of Thibet are too busy ; 
for it cannot be a very diffictdt affair to find a 
suitable boy of four. Whenever we asked about 
anything, the monk who answered us knelt down 
and spoke with folded hands. We asked for some 
tea, and obtained some ; but of course it was not 
what we call tea, but the kind of tea-soup they give 
one there, made of tea, milk, butter, and salt, to 
which w^e had already got accustomed. When 
we asked for some bread, they gave us. instead of 
baked bread, a little bag of meal, which, as usual, we 
had to make into dough and bake in our own oven. 

Baked bread is very little eaten here ; the 
natives prefer to swallow it in lumps of dough, 
which is certainly convenient ! 

The thick sticks with iron points, hanging near 
the door of the temple, are of special interest. 
With them, as we were informed, the refractory 
scholars of the convent were chastised ; though 



probably refractory monks also sometimes received 
correction. The monks here dress like those in 
Sikkim, but they belong to a different sect of 
celibates. Their costume is yellow, and their high 
caps also are of yellow-coloured stuff. One of these 
latter hung in the temple over the door. When 
they told us this cap was for sale we bought it for 
two rupees. We also wished to buy some other 
interesting things ; but the monks would not hear of 
it, fell on their knees, and besought us not to insist 
on it. Of course we left them in possession of their 
treasures and contented ourselves with the cap. 

At about ten minutes' distance stands a nunnery. 
At the time of our visit there were only two nuns 
there, an old one and a young one, who were drying 
vegetables for the winter. Three nuns usually live 
in this convent, the rest remain with their relations 
and help them in their work in the fields. The 
convent stands in the middle of a thick forest in a 
romantic country ; it is, however, much smaller than 
the monks' convent, and also much poorer. 

The following day my husband painted a 
woman in the village, aged twenty years, who has 


three husbands who are brothers ; the fourth 
brother has a separate wife. This woman's features 
w^ere tolerably regular, and the colour of her skin 
was white. Eound her neck she wore a string of 
coral beads, and on lier arms, as bracelets, two 
good-sized mussel-shells. I gave her a trinket of 
large green glass beads, and she seemed pleased. 

The want of cleanliness among these people, 
especially among the women, strikes one forcibly. 
As I have already said, they wear their hair in 
small plaits, and leave it apparently for a long time 
without being combed. The men also but seldom 
undo the plaits of their hair. They wear long black 
soft caps Avhich look like bags, the upper half of 
which is made to hang down on whichever side is 
exposed to the sun. 

I continue to be an object of interest to all the 
ladies of this country ; they watch me with great 
curiosity, and question me about all the articles of 
my dress. It is impossible to give them greater 
pleasure than by letting them feel the garments and 
examine the quality of the stuff. 

We probably owed the good-will which we met 
with here to the orders of Captain Molloy. The 
greatest possible attention that the natives could 
pay us was to bring us a cow, that is to say, a yak, 



every time tliat we halted, and milk it before onr 
eyes. Everything that we paid the tikodar, or 
elder, for food, he paid over to the Eesident's 
tchapprassi who accompanied us ; of course to 
secure his good- will, for it was possible that the 
chief might question him. 

On the way much granite is to be seen, and 
other hard kinds of stone. Here and there also we 
caught sight of some marble. Everywhere water 
trickles through in great quantities. 

The capital of Ladak is not far off. We rested 
once more in some little garden, and from thence 
reached the town in great heat ; after we had 
passed the bazaar, wliere we were greeted with 
many salaams, we made a halt in the Eesident's 
garden, who sent us chairs, and, what was still 
more acceptable, tea also. 

The town of Lee is rather a melancholy place, 
with a powerless rajah, for the power is entirely 
in the hands of the Eesident. On the rocks stands 
a palace built of grey stone, near which rises a 
temple : neither building is at all imposiug. 

The vegetation is extremely poor, and the 
inhabitants, as may be supposed, do not live in very 
great plenty. 


We did not, however, stay here long, and saw- 
but little of the life of the people, which in all 
probabiUty is not very interesting. Apathy and 
poverty are the most prominent characteristics 
of this place. 

When I asked for a cobbler, in order that he 
might mend our shoes, he seriously advised us to 
send first for the smith, because he had no nails. I 
thereupon asked him to use thread instead of nails, 
but he said lie must first get the thread. 

The women here fasten their dresses together 
w^ith clasps in the form of a shield, made of copper, 
with little chains of mussel shells. 

The fowls are very peculiar here, with very 
long and broad tail-feathei's ; the ravens are large 
and fat. The goats have horns of extraordinary 
length, sometimes as much as 2\ feet, or even 
more. It must be observed that in Lee every- 
thing is dear ; even the carpets from Yarkand, 
which go through Lee to Srinagur, are more 
expensive here than in Cashmere. 

At the house of the Eesident w^e saw a couple of 
dogs of a pure Thibet breed ; their dark grey hair 
is short, the ears are long, like those of spaniels, the 
head very broad, and sharp at the nose, which 
gives them an intelligent appearance. Molloy 
would not consent to give the dogs up to us, 


because he was thinking of presenting them to the 
Prince of Wales. 

Captain Molloy is a great hunter, as may be 
seen by the numerous trophies which adorn liis 
Httle house, in the shape of horns, deerskins, and 

He often spends day after day at a lieight of 
from nineteen to twenty thousand feet in pursuit 
of a sheep, but has frequently to return home 
without his booty, for these animals are very in- 
telligent. There is a kind of wild sheep here 
{Cvis amnion), whose horns make only one twist ; 
my husband told him that in Turkestan there is an 
allied species {Qvis polis\ with two twists in their 
horns. It may be doubted, however, if the 
Turkestan sheep are stronger than these, whose 
power of leaping and butting is frightful. The 
captain was so interested in the species of the Ovis 
polls that he was seized with a desire to go to 
Turkestan in order to procure o specimen or two. 
My husband talked much with him on the affairs of 
Central Asia, the greater part of which he knows 
Avell, while the Eesident knows it only from books 
and hearsay. He had made great eflforts to go 
there, and hoped now to obtain the post of Englisli 
Agent at Yarkand, wliich was fdled by a certain 
Mr. Shaw, a sworn enemy to Eussia and every- 


thing Russian. My husband greatly cooled his 
ardour by assuring him that not only was the ap- 
pointment of a successor to Shaw quite superfluous, 
but that Shaw himself would have to be recalled, 
because the Chinese, slowly indeed, but surely, 
were approaching the frontier of Jetyshar, and 
within a short time would take possession of it ; 
in which case there would certainly be a massacre, 
in which all foreigners would be murdered. 

'You believe, then, that Shaw is in danger?' 
asked the captain. 

' Not just yet, but he will soon find himself in 
very great danger.' 

About 1^ miles beyond Lee there was another 
long, low stone wall, on which was a representation 
of Buddha sitting on the Lotus, with prayers in- 
scribed round the figure. 

We left our coolies from Cashmere behind us 
at Lee, for they had become odious to us on ac- 
count of their tempers ; the huntsman, in parti- 
cular, probably on account of his continual ill-luck 
in hunting, was always grumbling and swearing. 

We now took fresh bearers at every station, but 
immediately had an unpleasant experience. It 
was about half-way, at a little village where we had 


made a halt No sooner had tlie coohes placed 
my palanquin down in the shade than they ran 
away. We had only traversed some three or four 
miles, and my husband ran in a great rage to seek 
the fugitives. A few gave themselves up, but others 
dodged in and out of house and garden. One 
fellow went on to the roof, and when my husband 
went up after him he got down safely, and, to the 
dehght of the rest, actually made grimaces at hhn 
from below, being convinced that his pursuer could 
not jump down after him. However, my husband 
did jump down, and seized the shameless wretch ; 
whereupon the rest showed themselves also, and, 
acknowledging their fault, begged to be allowed to 
continue the journey as far as the convent. 

Very soon we saw some painted tchitens, and 
came to a convent which likewise bea^-s the name 
of Hemis. It is the chief monastery in Ladak, 
the place of residence of the head lama. The 
building is very large, and surrounded by trees, 
and over the gate can be seen a large painted 
figure of Buddha. Behind the convent, on a high 
rock, stands a village. The lamas welcomed us 
with some tea, dried apricots, a dish of rice, and 
meat, mixed with a great deal of hair. They 



showed us a very dirty, marshy place on the bank 
of the httle river. We had scarcely settled our- 
selves down here in a tent when I was seized with 
an attack of fever. My husband immediately 
induced the people in the convent to let me have 
one of their rooms. The monks immediately 
dragged away the wool which was drying in the 
neighbourhood of the room, and which smelt very 
strongly, cleaned it, and put everything in order ; 
and after many weeks of nomad existence in a tent, 
we found ourselves once more under a roof in a 
pleasant room, out of which opened a balcony. 

However, the fever returned again here, and 
every day at precisely three o'clock it visited me. 
Another visitor, but a less unwelcome one, was 
the oldest lama of the convent, a deaf man, to 
whom the interpreter was obliged to shout very 
loud, and whose visits were therefore very noisy. 
The lama brought us, in place of bread and salt, 
grapes and ' panshala,' i.e. sand-sugar, as tokens of 

The wc^rthy monk told us that he had been 
advised of our coming, and had therefore pur- 
posely put off for some days a journey to Thibet, 
whither he wished to go in order to make his report 
to the oldest lama who resides there. 

When, towards evening, the fever left me, we 




went to see tlie several temples, of which there are 
alto<jrether ten here, larj^e and small. In two of 



them service was going on. There were but few of 
tlie congregation who did not belong to the convent. 
In the corner a monk was beating a drum and 
muttering prayers ; at his side sat two lamas, one 
occupied in dividing the contributions received, the 
other distributing them. The contributions con- 
sisted of meal and beer. Caps were constantly 
filled and emptied ; they prayed, ate, drank, sang, 
beat the drum, clinked copper plates, prayed again, 
and so on. We did not wait till the end. These 
various occupations did not hinder the lamas from 
watching us curiously. The temple is somewhat 
richly ornamented, its walls being nearly covered 
with banners and sacred pictures on silk. 

In another temple, underneath our room, a 
silver tchiten stands on the altar, inlaid with lapis 
lazuli, cornelian, and other precious stones ; the 
chains on each side of it are of gold. This valuable, 
but frightfully tasteless, piece of furniture appears 
to be the pride of the monks. The idols are richly 
decorated. In front of the statue of the oldest 
lama, now dead, burns a lamp — a little clay vessel, 
with a large piece of fat and a wick. In a gallery 
hang the portraits of all the people who have 
worked in the interests of this convent. In a 
special room stands a praying-machine. The con- 
vent appears to have been very rich in former 



times. The wing in which we live was built two 
hundred and forty years ago ; the other wing 



eighty years. Our wing is rather dilapidated, and 
the rooms are propped up in several places. The 
inhabitants of the monastery are a hundred lamas 
and a great many pupils ; their business is to eat 
and to pray, to pray and to eat. When the gifts 
of believers fail, they seem to live in a very poor 
way. When the manager of the convent was dis- 
tributing pieces of dough, unground grains of corn 
were very prominent. In all the windows there 
are curtains. 

In the yard, which extends the whole length of 
the convent, are high poles, on which are hung 
pieces of white stuff inscribed with prayers. The 
wind blows these prayers to and fro and wafts 
them to heaven. On the points of the poles are 
fastened yaks' tails, which are supposed to be the 
attributes of power. The style of the building is 
original ; the walls are not vertical, but a little 
sloped ; the roof is well covered with straw, and 
on it are ' genshi,' or round knobs of different 
materials, likewise decorated with yaks' tails. 

We were informed that the oldest lama in the 
monastery, who is immortal, lived here first three 
hundred years ago, and has already been born 
a<?ain six times in Ladak and once in Thibet : at 
present he lives in Lhassa. Being regarded as the 
late abbot come to life again, he is still the head 


of the convent, but it appears advantageous to the 
chief lama of Thibet to detain him there in order 
to keep for himself the gifts and contributions from 
Ladak. We asked them how they executed their 
religious dances, in order to know whether they 
were like those which we had seen in Sikkim. We 
found scarcely any difference, except that the 
dancers have richer costumes, but less skill : it 
may have been that the greatest masters in the art 
were not in the convent just at that time. My 
husband tried here also to buy several specially 
characteristic costumes, and other things, but the 
lamas displayed so little readiness to meet his 
wishes that he gave up the idea. The lamas as- 
sured him that if they were to sell anything no one 
would come to the convent to pray. My husband 
gave them some money for their trouble. Out of 
several sketches which he made here, one especially 
was very successful, representing half the convent 
in shadow while the upper half is partially in light. 
Another study also was not bad, in which there is 
a dark door in a yellow wall, with a scholar fallen 
asleep over his book on the doorstep. 

While here we received our letters and news- 
papers from Srinagur. The last part of the time 


there was a violent wind, and we continued our 
journey, taking advantage of the cool weather. 
The evening before our departure, it being a holiday, 
the monks ceaselessly and zealously blew great 
copper horns, which didnot exactly obey them, but 
only gave out of themselves hoarse, melancholy 
notes. We gave to the Lombardar and the monks 
various presents, such as looking-glasses, knives, 
&c., with which we had provided ourselves in St. 
Petersburg ; but they did not seem satisfied — pro- 
bably because they preferred money. It may here 
be remarked that we had made a great mistake 
in providing ourselves in St. Petersburg with every 
possible thing that could be given as a present, for 
all these things can easily be procured in Bombay 
or Calcutta ; and, after all, no present is so accept- 
able as money. The intention of my husband to 
make use of this opportunity for the display of 
Kussian products was scarcely practicable, for no 
one took any notice of the Eussian stamp on the 
glasses, knives, scissors, and other objects. But to 
call attention to the Eussian stamp was an un- 
pleasant thing to do in these countries, which are 
subject to English influence, as the English were 
always distrustful, and everywhere took us for 
spies, surveying tlio country for military purposes. 



From Hemis, after a ride of about six miles, 
we reached the convent of Tchimri, which stands 
on the highest point of a rock. The lama and his 
pupil, who came out of the convent to meet us, 
observed us with great attention. The worthy- 
man had put a chamber in readiness for us ; but 
we had not intended to stop here, and refused it 
with thanks. Eound the convent and the village, 
which lies at the foot of the rock on which the 
convent stands, may be seen the remains of walls 
— another proof that the houses of piety in former 
times, when robbery and brigandage flourished 
here, were used also as fortresses. 

My husband here made a great noise and be- 
stowed a blow upon the lombardar instead of the 
gratuity expected by him. At first they would 
give us no horses at all, because they pretended 
there were none at hand ; then horses were 
brought round, but slowly one after another dis- 
appeared again behind the bushes and trees. 
However, the energetic interference of my husband 
reduced everything to order. 


From the convent the road goes over a pass of 
eighteen thousand feet in height. When we went 
through the village of Sakti, which lies just at the 




place where the ascent begins, a large black dog of 
the Thibet breed ran out to meet my husband, who 
was riding on in front ; it was of the same kind 
as those we saw at Captain Molloy's, but with 
longer, thicker hair, and very much resembled a 
small bear. We had long intended to purchase a 
doi( of this kind. At first the owner of this one 
would not hear of selling him, but finally handed 
him over to us for eight rupees, and as the Bud- 
dhists have the idea that punished human souls live 
in animals, he would not let the dog go without a 
preliminary ceremony of cursing. He laid half of 
his clothes on the head of the dog, said a prayer, 
plucked a little hair, and called to us in parting 
not to hold the dog by a rope, because, however 
thick and strong it was, he would be sure to bite 
it through. In the memory of his birthplace 
we called the dog Sakti. 

The higher w^e climbed the more our people 
complained of headache. We ourselves felt pains 
in the head, though as we were riding and our 
people were on foot (for there was only one horse 
available for those who were tired) the rarity of 
the atmosphere affected them more. The kansa- 
man cried like a child with headache ; besides this 




it was cold, as we were wrapped in clouds all the 
way. Our resting-place lay at a height of sixteen 
thousand feet. We had scarcely reached it when 
all our people threw themselves down on the 
ground, and not one of them would obey the orders 
to put up the tent, to fetch water, &c. My husband 
lifted his cane, and then, but not till then, they all 
j Limped up and went about their work. 

Here we met a goat-caravan which was going 
from Tchong in Thibet to Tchimri. Each goat 
carried a little bag of salt on its back. For this pur- 
pose tlie wool on their backs and sides was shorn, so 
that the animals looked as if they had little trousers 
on. The salt goes to Leh to the Eajah's magazine, 
which has a monopoly of salt, as is the case in 
the greater part of the independent native states. 
Another caravan, a yak caravan, went before us 
irom Tchimri to Tchong with meal. The yaks are 
not of large size ; their nostrils are pierced through 
like those of camels with a wooden pin, to which 
tlie rein is tied. 

The last eight miles of the ascent from our 
resting-place to the top of the pass are very difficult, 
because the road is blocked with stones and snow. 

On tlie top, as usual, is a pole with a piece of 



stuff inscribed with prayers on it. Our bearers 
offered up a prayer of thanks for our safe ascent 
before the pole. 

The day before a rock had fallen down, and lay 
close by the road, which is very wide, and, as has 
already been said, a hardly passable chaos of stones 
and snow. The noise of the falling of this rock 
was heard far and wide. 

There are many wolves here, which is explained 
by the fact that many animals fall exhausted on 
the pass. A wolf ran by before our eyes, and 
looked to see whether we had not left anything for 

As soon as we had passed by a small lake the 
descent began. Properly we ought to have halted 
by the water ; but the relief we felt in going down 
hill gave us strength, and we accomplished this 
day twenty-nine miles in twelve hours. We made 
a halt at a height of thirteen thousand feet. 

At first I very cautiously offered a piece of 
bread to our dog Sakti, who was running behind 
us, but soon found that Sakti is a very good and 
friendly animal. In the night he barks unceas- 
ingly, so that one's sleep is disturbed. In the first 
instance the noise of the caravan bells disturbed 


his equanimity, and now so soon as he hears it he 
begins from habit to bark without stopping, and 
becomes very furious. His instinct is remarkable. 
People told us on the way that there are still better 
dogs in this countr}", but when we wanted to 
know where they were, they always pointed to a 
village which lay before us, but we did not find 
any there. 

We reached Tanktse, a large j)lace, but very ill- 
supplied with food ; and found we had done well 
to provide ourselves with fowls and mutton in 
Hemis. However, we took a cow and calf from 
here with us, in order to have fresh milk on the 

Intercourse with the inhabitants now became 
difficult, and Lodi, our interpreter, was often 
angry because they could not understand him well. 
We rested half-way near a httle freshwater lake, 
where we shot and ate a large well-flavoured 

The next station is Pengong, a salt lake, which 
was the furthest limit of our journey along the 
Thibet frontier. My husband rode forward to 
look out for a good place to halt. 


We were astonished at the colour of the water; 
it looked so blue in front of us that 1 could not 
at once believe it was water that lay before me. 
As we approached the lake we saw that it was 
bordered by a line of white sand, and surrounded 
by snow -mountains more than twenty thousand 
feet high ; on the right-hand side there are also 
high rocks hanging over the water. The water 
is salt and bitter, to which perhaps it owes its 
wonderful blue colour. There are no fish here ; 
the sand all round looks blue. My husband began 
to make a sketch here, but in the midst of his 
work a whirlwind arose, blew over the sketch, the 
p alette, and the colour-box ; so that he had to put 
it aside. We ought to have made our halt on 
the north-east side of the lake, near the mouth of a 
little river, for there was grass there, and several 
trees, and the official station for travellers and 
caravans going to the Tchangchenjin Valley and 
over the mountain pass to Turkestan ; but as we 
had from here to turn southwards along the west 
shore, we preferred our sandy halting-place, where 
the sand made its way into our clothes, our boxes, 
and even our food. 

The lake is about two hundred miles long. 
. In the evening at sunset, when the water is 
half of an ultramarine-blue colour, and the other 


half sky-blue, bordered with the yellow-red strip 
of shore, it is a wonderful sight. 

Our interpreter, Lodi, fell ill of a fever here, of 
which my husband cured him, by giving him hot 
drinks, covering him up to his head, and, as soon 
as he began to perspire, dosing him with quinine. 

My husband made another sketch of the lake. 
On the following day we went forty-six miles on 
the western shore, to Mentse, a little village consist- 
ing of a few houses. The wliole female population 
came out to receive us ; they were decorated with 
ornaments of silver and turquoise, and wore very 
thick jackets and goatskins, to which were added 
pieces of stuff on the upper half of their bodies, as 
a protection against the cold occasioned by the 
neighbourhood of the glaciers. As w^e were in- 
formed, all the men work for some neighbouring- 
small rajah. My fever returned here, but the 
influence of quinine soon overcame it. I did not 
like to subject myself to such violent remedies as 
had been applied to Lodi, though I had seen how 
effective they were. 

We had received from Molloy two young Sliiite 
sayces (grooms), who were covered with rags, wore 
long ringlets, and looked very stupid. Our groom 


from Srinagur at once took upon himself to act 
as their chief, and dealt out blows to them with a 
liberal hand. 

My husband shot a good many ducks, and 
painted a yak-caravan which was carrying salt. 
Then we travelled on to the station of Shoshal. 
For several miles further our road lay along the 
shore of the lake, and then we took leave of it. 
At this stage of our journey we saw several wild 
horses {Hanys), which graze here in herds, princi- 
pally in little woods at the mouth of the river 
which discharges into the south-west end of the 

We cannot undertake to decide whether these 
are really wild horses from which the present 
breed of tame horses is descended, or whether 
they are domesticated ponies that have run wild ; 
but we rather incline to the former belief, for 
this reason among others, viz. that these kiangs 
resemble the animals of the Belovestcha forest in 
Eussia, which cannot, as far as is known, be tamed 
at all, and will not live in captivity. The horses 
are of a reddish grey colour, the neck, the under- 
side, and part of the head being white ; the nose, 
the back, and the tail are like those of mules, but 


the legs are like those of our horses. Their quick- 
ness, activity, and dexterity are striking ; one can 
only compare them to the stag or the wild-goat. 
They seemed to be not ill-disposed to make ac- 
quaintance with our ponies ; our horses, too, pricked 
up their ears, but the alarm inspired by human 
beings was too great, and they sprang away from 
us. My husband tried several times to shoot them 
as they galloped away, but without success. He 
placed mounted coolies on all four sides ; but the 
animals sprang^ between them and fled like the 
wind. Once my husband fell into a deep little 
stream during a chase after these horses ; the kiang 
also plunged into the water, swam across it, gained 
the opposite shore, and disappeared, while my hus- 
band w^as nearly drowned. He got back to me 
dripping, and gave up the chase, though he would 
have liked to secure one of the animals on 
account of the skin. On the Arab horse which 
he had on the Indian plains, and which was as 
swift as a wild-goat, he might possibly have suc- 
ceeded, but our ponies got out of breath after 
quite a short run. 

While we were here the gnats began to annoy 
us very much. We only changed yaks, while the 


bearers remained the same from Tanktse onwards, 
because in the places on the road there are very 
few people. On the way we saw stones on which 
were sheep's horns and little banners, just as 
they are found in the steppes of Turkestan. Our 
bearers did not omit to offer up prayers at these 
holy places. 

Our sheep was the cause of no little laughter 
and vexation, for, contrary to our order, it was 
not led by a rope, but ran loose beside us ; it ran 
now in this direction and now in that, and so 
quickly that our people were nearly exhausted 
with trying to catch it. They did so in a bar- 
barous manner, namely, by breaking its leg with 
a stone. 

I know no more useful animals than the yaks 
of this country : they give a rich milk of a pleasant 
flavour, and are good at every kind of work, and 
on the road their foresight and perseverance are 
invaluable. The young ones are sold at fifteen 
to twenty rupees, the full-grown from twenty to 
twenty-five. Horses are more expensive ; the 
horses, for instance, for which we had paid twenty 
to thirty rupees in Srinagur cost fifty here. A 
good strong ass costs twenty rupees, and an inferior 
one fourteen or fifteen. 

Eupees are of pure silver, but in Cashmere are 




very badly stamped ; they are equivalent to ten 
annas instead of sixteen as in India, and brought 
us into many difficulties. Many a time people 
tried to cheat us with this money. The lomhardar 
(village magistrate) at the last village positively 
refused to take the rupee for more than nine 
annas. To us this was of course indifferent, but 
our people grumbled at it. My husband tlien had 
recourse to more energetic means. He had the 
lombardar brought in, and asked him again 
whether he would take the money. When he 
refused my husband gave him a box on the ear. 
'Will you take the money at its proper value?' 
'No.' A second box on the ear. ' Will you now ? ' 
' Yes, yes,' cried the alarmed lombardar, ' I will 
take it.' I must relate this incident, although we 
are somewhat ashamed of it. 

From here w^e came to high-lying places, where 
there were plenty of partridges and hares. We 
ate them so frequently that we got quite tired of 
them. My husband after this actually caught a 
whole family of black game after he had shot 
the parent birds ; one of the hares which we 
thought we had shot jumped up just as we were 
going to pick it up, ran away, and is still running. 


My husband had here a sharp touch of fever. 
He recovered, however, by means of perspiration 
and quinine, and on the following day we continued 
our journey. Although we were at a considerable 
height we felt the July heat a good deal in the 
middle of the day, and all the more so as the 
country is in many parts very stony and barren. 
We passed by the little lake of Mirtso, or the 
Dead Sea, which lies in a desolate situation be- 
tween bare rocks, and whose waters are slightly 
salt and of a shimmering blue colour. The country 
round is so uninviting that we could not even 
put up our tent on the stony ground, and were 
obliged to seek a more suitable resting-place 
farther on. We again went over a high pass, 
where wild horses were grazing, which, to ail ap- 
pearances, are only to be met with on considerable 
heights — never less than fourteen thousand feet. 
We were troubled again here with headache. In 
the night it snowed, and the tents became extremely 

We now travel to another salt lake, which goes 
by the name of Tso-morari {tso means water), 
and shall soon have to cross the river Indus, We 
are occupied with the important question whether 


this celebrated river has a passable ford or not. 
Some affirm that it has ; others contradict the 

Leaving a very wild ravine, I overtook my 
husband on a splendid green plain, by a fresh- 
water lake, where he had shot four geese and 
four large ducks, which we could hardly carry in 
our travelling-bags. We had breakfast in the 
meadow among the cows and bulls grazing there, 
and reached the Indus towards evening. The im- 
pression was unfavourable, as the river is broad and 
deep, and flows very rapidly. My husband sent 
one of the tallest and strongest of our people to 
sound the depth of the river after he had tied a 
rope round his waist ; but the moment he left the 
shore he w^as out of his depth, so that they had 
to quickly pull him up again. Evidently to at- 
tempt to ford the river was not to be thought of. 
The lombardar of the neighbouring village pro- 
mised to lend us a raft made of inflated sheepskins, 
but not till the following day. 

Left without occupation, we remembered that 
we had fishing-nets with us, and began to fish. We 
caught and ate ten fair-sized fish. 

The raft was made, as I have already said, of 
sheep- and goatskins, well inflated, and bound 
fast together ; on these, closely jomed planks were 


laid. We crossed in perfect safety, togetlier with 
our baggage, to the opposite shore ; but our dog 
turned back after he had swum half-way across 
the river, and could not be got to come with us 
till he was tied on to tlie raft. We discharged 
our bearers here when we had secured new ones, 
which we did not do Avithout some trouble, because 
here also the natives dislike that work. 

We passed by a salt- factory. In former times, 
the salt, which is not particularly good, was taken 
a great distance into India ; but at present the 
demand is not great. In the neighbourhood also 
there are sulphur -manufactories, w^here women and 
children chiefly are employed, wdio receive an anna 
per day. About forty persons are employed tliere 
altogether. There are said also to be hot sulphur- 
springs close by, Init we did not look for tliem as 
we did not wish to leave the road. 

There are many geese also on Lake Tso-morari. 
My husband shot some hares. We settled our- 
selves down near a small village in the immediate 
vicinity of the glacier. The lake is small and the 
water not so blue as the Pengong Lake ; it also 
is shut in by mountains covered with everlasting 


Not far from us two English officers, who were 
on a hunting expedition, had pitched their tent. 
They went about on foot, only accompanied by two 
bearers, and did not seem to have had very good 

We had met them already on the banks of the 
Indus, where they had made use of our raft. My 
husband exchanged a few words with them, and 
supplied them with newspapers after they had in- 
formed us that they had already been three months 
without reading anything. When the courier from 
Leh brought us our fresh newspapers, we lent them 
to the hunters as soon as we had read them our- 
selves. Probably in order to show us some atten- 
tion on their side, they sent us two pigeons. But 
we hardly knew how to dispose of all our pigeons, 
ducks, and geese. The two officers soon disap- 
peared from sight, so that we could lend them no 
more newspapers. 

At evening we enjoyed the sight of a wonder- 
ful sunset ; the bare rocky mountain peaks glowed 
as if they were on fire. 

Our new grooms had lost some money. Sus- 
picion fell on a groom named Easaka, from Cash- 
mere, whom we already knew to be a rogue. My 




husband- gave him his wages and dismissed him. 
The men who had been robbed, however, received 
a month^s wages as a consolation. Rasaka took 
leave of the other bearers and departed, but late 
in the night he came back secretly and frightened 
the horses, so that they stampeded. As soon as 

the grooms had hurried away to catch them, the 
rogue cut from their clothes the money which 
they kept sewn into them. After that Rasaka 
attempted also to rob us. Our dog, who lay in the 
part of the tent where our boxes were, growled 



and barked several times during the night, in spite 
of our attempts to soothe him, as if he was trying 
to spring on some one. When, the next morning, 
we learnt of the grooms' loss, it was clear to us 
that Sakti had rendered us a great service. The 
grief of the grooms knew no bounds ; one of them 
even cried, beat himself on the cheek, and tore his 
hair so violently that we had to comfort him like 
a child, and to assure him that the money would 
certainly be found again, though we were not at 
all convinced that it would be. My husband 
wrote at once to Molloy at Leh, and to Henderson 
at Srinagur, sent them a description of the thief, 
and begged them to apprehend him if possible. 

After we had gone a distance of about twelve 
miles from the little village of Eakshu we stayed 
at the end of the lake, where there were lots of 
geese, and my husband shot a good many ; but we 
could not get them out of the water, because there 
was no boat, and our dog was afraid of the water. 
On the following day a gentle north wind brought 
them upon the shore to us. We prepared our- 
selves a soup, an entree, and a roast from the geese, 
and were still obliged to throw away half 


Our cook, Lal-khan, fell sick here, and com- 
plained of headache and pains in the limbs ; at 
evening he broke out into hysterical crying. On 
the following day, when our courier returned from 
Leh, we observed that the cook and he were 
engaged in some lengthy transaction. When the 
cook had gone to bed again we learnt that 
Lal-khan, who was in the habit of taking opium 
twice a day, had lost his little bag of opium, and 
the subject of his conversation with the postillion 
was the replenishment of his store of the precious 

The cook was seized with feverish shuddering ; 
his eyes stared, and he could scarcely articulate. 
We commissioned Lodi to follow the course of the 
illness, and he faithfully reported to us how the 
sick man was going on. He stuck his head into 
the tent and called out, ' Madame, he keeps beckon- 
ing with his hand.' 

' Well, come again soon and report how he is.' 

' Madame, he has begun to breathe very hard.' 


'Madame, his head has quite sunk down on 
one side ; he grinds his teeth and calls " Allali ! 
Allah ! " ' 

' Madame, his eyes are quite distorted. I an\ 
afraid he is dying.' 


What was to be clone now ? 

As it appeared, the cook had been hi the habit 
of taking pure opium morning and evening for four 
years. For a long time he tossed his head from 
side to side, shut and opened his mouth, com- 
plained of internal pains, and spit blood. We had 
no means of helping him, for Leh lay six days' 
journey behind us. My husband gave liim an 
opium-pill out of our travelling medicine chest, but 
such a small dose as this could do very little to 
improve his condition. The next day, we gave 
him some tea, and some strong tobacco to smoke, 
and he felt somewhat better. 

My husband hunted here, and we again saw 
some wild horses. 

We went on to the river Parang, which flows 
into the lake. In crossing the river the women 
who were driving the yaks held up their clothes 
higher than the sense of propriety even in Ladak 
permits, and thereby greatly delighted our grooms. 
The hair of these lads had not yet grown again 
after their recent mourning, and yet they winked 
their eyes and licked their tongues when our ill- 
favoured female companions uncovered their knees. 

These ladies certainly stole the milk from our 



COW, and declared, when we asked why there was 
such a small quantity of it : 

' God has not given the cow any more ! ' 
As we were convinced that they had taken the 
milk for their porridge and only brought us the 
remainder, ray husband again had recourse to one 
of liis violent remedies. He poured the milk over 
the dirty dishevelled hair of the worthy dame 
who brought it, with a threat to repeat this 
operation if the stealing of the milk should be 
repeated. The woman took it very good-naturedly, 
laughed, and brought us much more milk the next 

The weather is cloudy, which is a good thing 
in some ways. However, it is very cold. The 
neighbourhood of the snow-covered pass makes 
itself felt. 

After a short rest we came to the pass of Parang, 
where a river of the same name flows out of the 
glacier. My husband here began to make a sketch, 
the conclusion of which was prevented by constant 
rain mingled with snow. 

We now began the ascent. One of the bearers 
complained of pains in the foot, which was really 
sore, but we could not leave him behind unless we 



were willing to throw away our things. At first-, 
we went over ice : then through deep snow, in which 
our horses sank every moment up to their middles, 
and were only able to work themselves out again 
with incredible exertion. The weather was cloudy ; 
all around was white ; the yellowish atmosphere 
melted into the whiteness of the snow which lay 
spread out all around. I became so dazzled by it 
that the servant who was walking close to my 
palanquin seemed to be far away ; the rest of our 
people and my husband, who were on in front, I 
could scarcely distinguish. There was something 
awful in this boundless expanse of snow, and in the 
silence which surrounded us. We wondered how 
the guide who went first could distinguish the road, 
since neither under our feet nor at the sides was 
the least sign visible. Without guides we should 
certainly have died in the snow. Notwithstanding 
the great height — about nineteen thousand feet — 
no one complained of headache ; but we were all 
frightfully cold, and were nearly frozen — of course 
I do not mean the natives, to whom such expe- 
riences are nothing new. 

One of our horses followed us with great dif- 
ficulty — less on account of being exhausted than 
because it had had nothing to drink for two or even 
three days. When my husband took it to some 


water it would hardly leave it : it di'ank and drank 
and drank. The groom received a box on the ear 
for his negligence, as the horse was nearly dying. 

The descent of this pass was as hard a day's 
work as any that we had on the whole journey. 
The road, which is terribly steep, hes over endless 
rocks and stones. It goes in short zigzags up the 
same mountain from top to bottom, so that the 
whole can easily be seen at a glance. Our sick 
horse, which with difficulty kept on its legs, very 
nearly fell down tlie precipice. I had already 
elose.d my eyes in horror, so as not to see the cata- 
strophe, when one of our people saved it from falling. 
After spending the night close to the foot of the 
descent we continued our journey to the province 
of Spiti on horseback. The bridges here are very 
primitive, being made of a few logs on which stones 
are scattered, which, however, fall into the water 
under the horse's feet. 

The path is so overgrown with long grass that 
here also it would be impossible to find the way 
without a guide. Very soon we had a view of the 
village of Kiwar. The dress of the men of Spiti is 
the same asof those in Ladak; the women, however, 
wear white trousers, a black tunic, and many orna- 


ments round their necks and in their ears. The 
men here are less savage, taller, and rather better- 
looking, although their features also are strongly 
Mongolian in type. 

The houses are better outside and cleaner 

When we got near Kiwar the bearers agreed 
among themselves, probably because they were 
afraid we should compel them to go farther, to 
leave me and my palanquin, and did actually run 

Some monks from the convent of Ki to whom 
we applied carried me on fartlier ; and I must 
confess they accomplished the six or seven miles 
with great good- humour. 



The monastery of Ki is perched high up on a rock. 
This place was doubly interesting to us — first, as a 
convent ; and, secondly, because we had here an 
opportunity of seeing a fine dog of the Thibet breed. 
Some tune before this, on the road from Hemis, 
we had met an Englis:i sportsman who came from 
Simla. When he saw Sakti he had a conversation 
with my husband about dogs, and told him that he 
had only seen good ones at the convent of Ki {ki 
means dog), and that the dog whicli guards the en- 
trance there is a very pecuUar animal with a great 
lion's mane. Now that we had reached Ki we were 
much interested in seeing this curiosity. We were 
just approaching the entrance, when an old monk 
came out and, with the words, ' Take care : tliere is 
a fierce dog here,' ran to a shed in which a dog 
of a red colour, and apparently old, was showing its 
teeth and preparing to spring upon us. The lion's 
mane of which we had heard hung in hanks round 


its neck and far down its back, which gave the 
dog an unusually savage appearance. 

' Will you sell me the dog ? ' said my husband. 

The monks were horrified. ' What do you want 
him for ? ' 

' Well, I want him.' 

' The dog is fierce, and is seven years old 

'A fierce dog is just what I want. Sell him to 

At last the monks consented, and demanded ten 
rupees. We called the dog ' Ki ' in memory of his 
native rock. 

When Sakti approached his new companion 
for the first time in order to smell at him, as from 
time immemorial has been the custom among well- 
trained dogs, the new dog sprang upon him, threvv 
him on the ground, and bit him severely. It w^ould 
indeed have been difficult to find a fiercer dog than 
this, so that we were quite contented with our pur- 

The natives are Buddhists, though the influence 
of India and of Brahminism is already perceptible. 
For instance, they were afraid to touch our food ; 
wlien w^e wished to give one of the inhabitants in 


the village of Euksliu a piece of meat, he could 
not help showing his horror by spitting. Higher 
up in the mountains the Buddhists are not so 
particular, and eat anything, with the exception of 
snakes, rats, and cats. 

The bearers gave us a great deal of trouble 
here ; for as they would not carry the baggage 
further than from one village to the next, even 
though the distance from village to village were 
only one or two miles, they had to be cnanged 
very frequently. Many of our things, in conse- 
quence of this frequent and therefore careless 
packing and unpacking, were of course injured and 
spoiled. The coolies here bring their wives with 
them, who seem to be accustomed to work for them- 
selves and their husbands also. The women carried 
the heavier burdens and the men the lighter ones. 

The women wear broad round rings of silver or 
bone, and on their arms bracelets of white mussel- 
shells with bells and tassels. They are not tall, but 
lively and cheerful in character. 

An ass is called here 'pung ; a horse ta ; and a 
dog, as I have already said, ki. 


The rocks here begin to be covered with bushes 
and grass, which is very restful to eye«5 which are 
wearied with perpetual stones and sand. We are 
rapidly leaving the heights, and hope soon to see 
woods, for which we have quite a longing. Captain 
MoUoy had informed us that he would send our 
post, which would be the last one, to the village of 
Charichan. This village certainly lies on the direct 
road to Simla ; but w^e were told that the way to it 
was difficult for horses, so that w^e should be obliged 
to go a long way round. 

Of Dankar, the capital of Spiti, we had 
already heard a good deal. Whenever we were 
short of anything on the way, or anything got 
broken, we were always consoled by the assurance 
that it could be bought or mended in Dankar. As 
we now found, this capital consists of ten little 
houses perched on a high rock. The houses are 
certainly clean, regularly built of stone, and having 
a number of little windows. Near the village 
stand a convent and a small fortress, which are 
hardly worthy of mention. 

The lombardar was not at home when we 
called. His assistant appeared to be very stupid, 
and the lama, who tried to remove the misunder- 


standings which arose, still more stupid. The wife 
of the lombardar came to our assistance — a resolute 
woman adorned with silver ornaments ; she pro- 
cured food for us and fodder for the horses, fresh 
bearers, and finally several fresh ponies, as some 
of ours were quite exhausted. 

I mounted my horse ; my husband took his seat 
on a yak ; but we soon had to exchange, because 
my animal once more found himself constrained to 
play various tricks at dangerous parts of the road. 

About nine miles farther on lay a village, where 
a Buddhist temple stood under a very high tree. 
A little door leads into the ante-chamber, which 
is ornamented with paintings, and where it is so 
dark that one can with difficulty distinguish any- 
thing. On the right stands a statue, of the Devil 
himself, or one of his assistants — at any rate, of a 
very furious creature ; on the left is the god of war 
with a crown made of skulls. One leg is longer 
than the other, and the face is distorted. There 
are various other figures there ; in each corner 
stands a statue, and behind the altar, in the dark- 
ness, a very large idol. 

All about lay various things — books, candle- 
sticks, vessels, and different papers, but above all 
vast quantities of dust. One must conclude from 
the want of cleanhness in the temples that the 


people are not particularly attached to their 
religion. In this also the weakness of Buddhism 
shows itself, that the nearer one approaches to 
places inhabited by Brahmins the more frequent 
become the figures of their deities. 

. For instance, one meets with Yishnu, with an 
elephant's body and head, long before one has 
reached the dwelling-places of the Brahmins. In 
some places we saw caves which, one must con- 
clude, are ancient and were once dwelt in by the 
people who afterwards settled down in the houses. 

We received information from Molloy that 
Rasaka was caught and had been put in prison ; also, 
that the stolen money had been found on him. 
This news not only rejoiced our grooms, but our- 
selves also, because it could not be denied that the 
shameless theft had a bad influence upon our 
people, who seemed silently to acquiesce in the 
knavery of their former comrade. 

Before the village of Lara we came to a river 
which, though not at all wide, was very rapid, and 
we saw no way of crossing it. The descent to the 
river was difficult enough, the road was so steep, 
and sand and small crumbling stones rolled from 
under our feet down the slope. The village lies 


exactly beyond the river, and the inhabitants are 
bound to assist travellers to cross it. After we had 
shouted for a long time, three men at length ap- 
peared. We were standing on an overhanging 
perpendicular rock close above the water on the 
left bank, which is frightfully steep. Our coolies 
loosened the cords from our baggage, and twisted 
them into a thick rope, which they first passed 
through a hole in a plank, and then stretched across 
the river and made fast at each end. Those who 
wish to cross the river are fastened to this plank, 
and so conveyed to the other side. 

My husband was the first to be drawn across. 
lie held fast to the plank — I saw how pale he be- 
came — and went quickly sliding along the rope to 
the opposite shore. Then the little plank was 
drawn back, and I was tied to it. I must confess 
I was very much frightened. When they bound 
me they advised me to lean firmly on the plank, 
and wanted to bind my eyes. I could hear the 
water foaming and rushing beneath me, and pushed 
them all back — I know not how I had the strength 
— and declared with determination that I would 
not make use of such a barbarous contrivance. 
What was to be done now? My husband from 
^that side and Lodi from this side of the river 
exhorted me to make up my mind to it. At last 

VOL. 11. G 


I consented. They bound me on tlie plank and 
bandaged my eyes. When they lowered me from 
the rock I tried to resist, but it was already too 
late : I was hanging over the river, and lost all 
consciousness. My husband told me afterwards that 
Lodi was terribly frightened, and called out to him : 
' Sir, we must stop : Madame has fainted ! ' 
' On the contrary, so much the better,' answered 
my husband, sharply ; ' let her down more quickly.' 
How they got me across I do not know ; when 
I came to myself I was on the sand on the opposite 
lower bank. The dogs were especially comical 
when they were tied to the plank by their necks. 
They seemed to be extremely uncomfortable, for 
w^hen they came to the shore their tongues were 
hanging out, and they had to be rubbed and 
given something to drink. The horses were sent 
into the water with loud cries higher up the stream, 
and driven on by having stones thrown at them ; 
they only crossed the river with difficulty. My 
Cashmere pony was nearly drowned. The stream 
had nearly carried him down to the place where 
we had accomplished our crossing, and the water, 
on account of the number of stones, was very 
much broken. I and all the others followed him 
with beating hearts. He tried to support himself 
on a stone, but was swept away. There was now 



only a little interval before him ; behind him the 
strong current and destruction. He got a foot- 
hold, tottered a little, but held himself upright ; 


and we breathed freely, for the pony was saved. 
Our sick horse was so weak that he could not be 
driven into the water. We therefore resolved to 
shoot him ; to which, also, our desire to regale 


ourselves on horseflesh contributed, instead of the 
thoroughly bad mutton, for which we had quite a 

Our people did not wish to eat the flesh, because 
Lodi, who was not a Mussulman, had killed it, and 
had not cut the animal's throat and reserved 
the blood as an offering to the Deity, which 
according to the Mussulman law is the first con- 
dition of the purity of the food. The natives, 
although they were Buddhists, with difficulty could 
make up their minds to bring us both the hind-legs 
of the horse. We ate them, partly in soup, partly 
as beefsteaks ; and the latter prepared with onions 
tasted better than anything we had had for a long 

In this village we had another conflict on the 
subject of milk, because bad goat's milk was sold to 
us for cow's milk, and at a high price. 

Not far from here is a pass thirteen thousand 
feet high. We had scarcely begun to climb up it 
when one of our bearers threw away his burden at 
a bend of the road and hid himself. My husband 
again took very decided measures ; two young and 
very pretty nuns who were coming to meet us were 
stopped, and he proposed to them to drive our 
yaks. The drivers, who thus became free, were 
set to carry the things. Probably out of pity, our 


people let the nuns run away from us at the top of 
the pass, and divided the things among themselves ; 
which arrangement they would not hear of before. 
This was just what my husband wanted. The nuns, 
whose skin was quite white, lived iu a little place 
called Paja, where the nunnery stands, close to a 
monastery. One of the nuns was particularly 
pretty ; and we laughed not a little when one of 
our grooms, forgetting his own unpleasing figure 
and clothing, began to flirt with her. 

After we had crossed the pass we had still to 
climb up and down many times before we came to 
a village, where there was a great quantity of peach 
and apricot trees; the fruit was being dried just at 
that time in the streets and on the roofs. 

The next station, Tchongo, is a large village, 
surrounded by a great many fields, and has a 
primitive ill-constructed bridge, which nearly broke 
under us. The natives here begin to be decidedly 
more civilized ; some musicians came to play to 
us, and wished us to enjoy tlie music while we 
w^ere resting ; but we were tired after our march 
of some fifteen miles, and dechned the concert. 

On the following morning we were on the road 
l)etimes, rested in a little village on a steep rock, 
breakfasted in a Buddhist temple, from thence 
climbed down to thp river, and came, after crossing 


an old bridge, to a place called Lio, which is within 
the boundaries of the province of Tchini. The 
men and women here wear little felt hats, and 
nnder their skirts the women wear very Avide 
trousers. The women are remarkably pretty. 
Provisions are considerably dearer here ; milk is 
very difficult to procure, and meal is dear, which 
was very disagreeable to our people. It is still 
more difficult to get yaks and bearers ; the latter 
run away from the houses and hide themselves, 
one may find them if one can. 

My husband again had recourse to his energetic 
measures. He collected all the old men, who, con- 
vinced that they need not fear being pressed into 
the service, had remained in their houses. What 
my husband had foreseen took place : the sons of 
the old men immediately appeared in order to set 
them free from the burdens and to carry the things 

This time also we were not without rogues in 
our company. A red-haired fellow, who had come 
instead of his father, threw his burden down 
before our eyes and ran away from it. My hus- 
band ran after him ; he scrambled on to a rock ; 
my husband did the same ; both hurried along, 
jumping from stone to stone. The fugitive lost 
his mantle and his cap, but succeeded in making 


his escape. The conclusion of this interlude was 
that the other bearers prepared to follow the 
example set them. My husband now turned to his 
last resource : he drew out his little pocket revolver 
and declared he would put a bullet in the backs of 
the absconders. The revolver was certainly very 
small, and the bullets only about the size of grains 
of corn ; but the threat did its work, and we con- 
tinued our journey without further misadventures 
of this sort. About half way I dismounted in 
order to go a little way on foot. My yak, a strong 
beautiful animal, such as one seldom sees in our 
zoological gardens, gave me such a kick- that at first 
I thought my foot was broken. My husband, who 
was riding behind, found me sitting on a stone 
and crying bitterly with the intense pain. The 
adventure had, however, no evil consequences. 

At the village of Hangu we met a procession 
of Buddhist pilgrims, who were going solemnly 
along with a staff ornamented with coloured stuff 
on the top of which hung a fur cap. In front 
of this original kind of banner a pilgrim was 
dancing. As we had the want of forethought 
to give them some money, they took up their 
position in front of our tent, and wearied us 


with their dancing, till my hnsband called out, 
' Abi-jan ! ' (Hold : get along with you !) With- 
out appearing at all offended the party went off 

Our old friends the lamas can still be met with 
here ; but the religion of the place already has a 
large admixture of Brahminism, and among the 
natives not a few Hindoos are to be found. 

The houses, the outsides of which do not look 
bad, are like those in Srinagur ; they have galleries, 
balconies, and many windows. The shape of the 
men's hats reminded us very much of the hats we 
saw in Italy. 


At the station of Sun gun my husband obtained 
a costume of the country. The lombardar, or head- 
man, showed himself to be a very attentive man, 
for he brought us apples, pears, and pumpkins as 
a present. According to his assertion, the natives 
of the Province of Spiti are very lazy and do not 
work ; when it comes to the payment of their 
taxes, they bring their horses, the best of which 
are worth four or five hundred rupees, and the 
worst eighty, into the neighbouring provinces to 
usell. They sell their ponies in the province which 
borders Thibet, but with small profit, and exchange 


them principally for amber, turquoises, yaks' tails, 
and good wool. 

The relations between the provinces of Tchini 
and Spiti are so unfriendly that even intermarriage 
is very rare. From here the country begins to 
be wooded, but not thickly. The village of Sun- 
gun is the largest we have seen on our way ; it 
possesses three hundred houses, and fifteen or 
twenty inhabitants may be reckoned to each 

The features and the customs of the natives 
here begin to remind us of the Hindoos ; the 
temple is certainly Buddhist, but with Brahminical 
additions ; so that one must conclude that the 
natives will soon completely go over to Brah- 
minism. The increase of this religion and the 
decrease of Buddhism, which was once paramount 
in India, but now only asserts itself in Ceylon and 
in the Himalaya Mountains, is still going on. The 
lombardar told us that polyandry has never been 
very strongly develoj:)ed here, and latterly has 
completely disappeared (?). 

In Spiti the poor people are thrown into the 
river directly they are dead, but the rich are 
buried ; here, however, both rich and poor are 
cremated, because a dead body here, as on the 
great Indian plain, inspires horror. We had ai^ 


opportunity of observing that every one turned 
away from one of the women who was in our 
service as a bearer because she was a professional 
knacker. The women wear a piece of coloured stuff, 
usually of a dark colour, slung over the slioulders, 
with broad folds over the back, and fasten it with 
a large copper pin on the left shoulder. The few 
ornaments we saw were mostly made of silver. 

A great deal of brandy is made here from 
grapes. Lodi, who discovered this, immediately 
declared himself ready to taste the liquor; and I 
must confess that we watched him with glances of 
suspicion when at evening we remarked his pecu- 
liar appearance and his caution in shutting the door 
of his tent. We knew, however, that he was born 
in a Buddhist country, and, having had a smat- 
tering of English civilization, did not despise 
spirituous liquors. 

Cows and oxen are not eaten here, according to 
the Indian custom, but sheep and goats are. 

Lodi informed us that every time we stopped 
at a village to rest our grooms went begging from 
house to house, and that as this time they were 
longer absent than usual they must be busied in 
this way. My husband would not believe it. 


' But they have their wages,' he cried incredulously. 
•• They sew the money into their rags,' answered 
Lodi, ' and never spend a halfpenny.' 

My husband went into the road to find out for 
himself. He soon saw the interesting couple, their 


heads hung innocently on one side and their hands 
folded in front of them. As they unfastened their 
rags at my husband's order all sorts of things were 
found in them — unripe grapes, old cords, &c. Lodi 
informed us that several times meat had been taken 


from his saucepan, and that he frequently missed 
small coins. My husband at once gave each of the 
pair a box on the ear, threw everything in their 
bundles that they had collected and which did not 
belong to them into the river, and handed Lodi 
some rupees, that he might always buy their pro- 
visions for them, even against their will. 

A woman appeared here from Spiti ; she was 
no longer young, but was well-dressed. She 
brought us a dish of rice as a present, with the 
explanation that Lodi was her brother, and begged 
him to come away. We laughed at this request. 
When we were about to set forth on our way the 
next day she appeared again, threw herself at 
Lodi's feet, and besought him with tears to go with 
her. ' You are so like my brother ! ' she cried with 
tears. We were all moved, and her grief made it 
impossible to be angry with her. Lodi was much 
perplexed, and offered her money if she would leave 
him in peace. Then the lombardar also mixed 
himself up in the, affair. ' Speak the truth ; do not 
conceal it, if you are reall}'- the brother of the 
woman, for she has come a long way.' 

The brother of this woman had gone away a long 
time ago with a European and had never come 



back ; some one who had seen us on the way had 
assured her that her brother was traveUing with 
gentlefolks from Dankar to Simla, and therefore 
she had come all this way to attach herself to us. 

My husband was obliged to interfere, and to 
answer for it that her supposed brother was born 
far away in Sikkim. 

The woman did not quite believe this assertion, 
but she became calmer and followed us no farther. 
Lodi actually shed tears, but I believe it was with 
anger because he had been taken for a native, when 
he not only wore the dress but imagined that his 
feaiures were those of a European. 

After this moving scene we were not a little 
amused by the discovery that the yak which stood 
ready for my husband to ride had no tail, but 
seemed quite happy. My husband noticed this 
disfigurement in good time, and ordered the saddle 
to be changed. We crossed a small river and 
reached the forest ; which, indeed, is still thin, but 
yet gives some shade. The village we have just 
left may be taken as the border line between the 
regions of rock and of sand. 

The yaks here are stronger and have thicker 
coats than those wliich we saw in the caravans in 


Northern Ladak. It has been already observed 
that on the high mountain paths the yak is invalu- 
able ; where a horse constantly stumbles a yak 
goes quietly and surely. 

We notice that our yaks live in a constant 
state of enmity with our dogs. As soon as they 
approach each other the dogs try to seize the yaks 
by their tails or by their long tufts of hair ; but 
the yaks attempt to keep them off, and as soon as 
they lose their patience they rush with lowered 
horns on the enemy. 

At the next large village we no longer found a 
Buddhist temple, but a Brahmin pagoda beautifully 
ornamented with wood- carving. 

The people, especially the men, appear to be 
lazy, for we could only get women to carry the 
luggage. As there were too few of them, we had 
to send our people to search for bearers. When, 
however, they were nowhere to be found, because 
they had all hidden themselves, my husband him- 
self set out, and after a regular hunt for the men, 
who ran away on all sides like goats, collected the 
necessary number, most of them being old people, 
who were as usual voluntarily relieved by their 
sons or relatives. This plan, though it cannot 


exactly be called humane, may be recommended as 
almost the only efficient one to the traveller in this 
country who is left in the lurch by his bearers. 

We had been advised not to follow the direct 
route, but to take a longer road which was con- 
siderably better. At first we were inclined not to 
take this advice seriously, for at one steep place 
the vak which I rode sank in the loose sand, and 
at another very narrow place between two trees 
and a rock my dress caught on a bough and 
I was nearly thrown out of the saddle. But how 
great was our surprise and joy when, after a few 
miles, we did in fact come to a magnificent high- 
road which the English are making to the frontier 
of Thibet ! 

Onwards from the river Sutlej we resumed our 
journey without hindrance till we got to tlie station, 
and, as there was no other convenient place, halted 
on the road, near the tent of the engineer who was 
constructing it. 

The following day we rested from our 
late efforts on the exhausting roads which lay 
behind us. The road now becomes level. We 
could now obtain every necessary, such as meal, 
meat, milk, fodder for the horses, &c. ; and though 


they are rather expensive here, yet, what is very 
pleasant, they can be got without bickering and 
quarrelhng. ' Energetic measures ' could now, to 
the advantage of both sides, be dispensed with. 
What a pleasure ! 

I can scarcely describe our joy when, at the 
next station but one, we entered a clean station- 
house whose vegetable garden offered us potatoes, 
turnips, cauliflowers, and lettuces. We provided 
ourselves with a fowl — an article of food which we 
had last seen at the salt-lakes — and made a broth of 
all these ingredients, as if to compensate ourselves 
for our long deprivation. 

Shortly before our arrival, an English officer. 
Major Eichards, had left the station-house, having 
lived here for two months with his wife and child. 

According to our opinion he could not have 
chosen a nicer residence ; for here, not far from 
Simla, a clean house can be had, pure air, provisions, 
vegetables, and everything ; and, moreover, the pay- 
ment is only one rupee a head a day. Certainly 
one is better off here than in any inn ; but there 
can be no doubt that such a prolonged stay is 
against the rules and puts other travellers to great 


Almost opposite the windows a huge mountain 
can be seen, with its glaciers. The roads here are 
so good that traveUing becomes quite a pleasure, 
especially after the stony paths above the preci- 
pices of Ladak. 

One of the natives came to me complaining of 
pain in the eyes and a tumour on his body. I 
gave him lead-water to relieve his eyes, but I 
knew of no remedy for his other ailment. 

As we were anxious to hurry on, we left two 
stations behind us without a halt. At the second 
of the two bridges which cross the river Yangtu 
one finds a notice that the distance to Simla is still" 
a hundred and twenty miles. The engineers who 
are constructing the road have a very pretty house 

At the station of Nagar, where we arrived late 
in the evening, we found, to our astonishment, no 
accommodation for travellers. However, we saw 
between the trees several tents belonging to English 
officers and engineers, among whom also we recog- 
nized the hunters, our old acquaintances of the 
Indus and the Lake of Pengong, to whom we had 
lent newspapers. 

They, as well as their colonel, were very friendly 

VOL. II. 11 



and eagerly invited us to dinner ; but we were obliged 
to refuse the invitation, because it was already late, 
and we wished to start early in the morning. 

On the way we saw a great many monkeys, 
playing noisily in the trees. 

We overtook the major and his family, who had 
been travelling in front of us, and continued our 
journey almost in their company; which, however, 
was not a convenient arrangement, as it made us 
both require bearers at the same time. As we our- 
selves required forty bearers, we frequently took 
only the most necessary things with us, while Lodi 
followed after us with the remainder and overtook 
us at each halt. To confess the truth, we were 
taking many things with us which we could have 
done very well without ; for instance, the presents, 
which we had very few opportunities of distri- 
buting, filled a whole box which required a special 

The competition between ourselves and the 
major in trying to be beforehand with each other 
was almost laughable. When we approached a 
station we found him and his family engaged on a 
cold breakfast, and therefore of course travelled 
on. Soon we heard a horseman galloping after 
us, and recognized our gallant major, who was over- 
taking us in order to prevent our getting first to 


the next station. Luckily, there was room in the 
station-house for us all ; but in his haste the major's 
horse had lost a shoe. 

Our dog Ki, who was even less tolerant of dogs 
than of human beings, had nearly bitten to death 
the major's little dog, which had been so imprudent 
as to run in front of him. Ki broke his chain, and 
it would have been all over with Mini if my husband 
had not hastened to his assistance. 

Our dog Sakti, who now ran loose beside us, 
held two things in abhorrence — water and pigs. 
Not only swimming across the river, but even 
crossing a bridge was so frightful to him, that 
every time, in spite of threats and blows, he ran 
back and scampered away as far as possible, so 
that it was difficult to find him again. He could 
not bear pigs either, and if he happened to be in 
the narrow street of a village at the same time as 
some of these harmless animals, which at the sight 
of the shaggy black dog naturally gave vent to a 
loud grunt, he would sneak ofi* in the most dis- 
gracefid way with drooping ears and tail hanging 
down. The cry of * Sakti ! chriu ! chriu ! ' had the 
effect of making him prick up his ears and bristle 
the hair on his back as he looked round uneasily. 



Sakti was a very clever animal. As soon as he 
had once for all comprehended that his home lay 
far behind us he never again tried to run away 
from us, although he would never let us tie him 
up, and whenever we attempted to do so at once 
bit through the cord, as his former owner told us 
he would. He usually ran in front of us, looking 
round to see if I or my husband were near ; if he 
did not see us he would sit and wait on a high 
rock, and as soon as we appeared dart off again in 
front of us. Our dog Ki, who had given him a 
lesson on the first day of their acquaintance, he 
always avoided, and feared not a little ; but once, 
when Ki sprang at him, and, being tied up, fell 
on his back, Sakti bit him deeply, so that my 
husband had forcibly to separate them. From 
that day the two dogs were friends, and Sakti 
actually assisted his former enemy when he was 
engaged in a quarrel with an unequal opponent. 
Later on we had occasion to be surprised at Sakti's 
intelligence and playfulness. 

In conversation with the major my husband 
discovered, among other things, that polyandry 
flourishes also in the countries we had just passed 


through, though we had been told the contrary. 
The natives repHed evasively to our questions on 
the subject. 

During our rest at the station, as we were sitting 

in our room, we heard some one speaking English 

loudly. The Eajah of Eampoor had come to see 

the major ; and my husband, hearing that the 

Eajah wished to make his acquaintance also, 

presently joined them. This Eajah is not rich : 

formerly Jiis possessions must certainly have reached 

to the Thibet frontier ; but at present they are 

much diminished, and his power is probably only 

nominal, for tlie English commissioner plays the 

principal part. Of course the English Government 

consoled the Eajah for the loss of his power with 

a small subsidy. He asked the major and my 

husband to show him their watches, weapons, and 

everything else of interest that they possessed. His 

own silver watch was a very poor one. He spoke 

English well, and behaved with decorum, though he 

reminded us of a capricious child. The Eajah 

commanded his secretary to write an order that all 

our wants should be supplied. 

' Useless zeal,' said Major Eichards, ' and a 
superfluous command.' 


The Eajah was dressed all in white, and wore 
a little black cap with a gold border. After he 
had been chattering for an hour he took leave, and 
twenty bearers carried his palanquin away. 

In spite of the Eajah's orders it was along time 
before we could get any bearers, and we were 
obliged to send Lodi to the Eajah after all. Before 
he reached the palace he passed through a number 
of courts and entrances. The palace is poor and 
dirty, just as the pagoda is. According to Lodi's 
account, they were not particularly friendly to 
him there ; however, some bearers appeared. 

Our fellow-traveller was now behind us : we 
travelled on to the next station, where we procured 
a small sheep. But we would rather have sup- 
pressed our hunger if we could have foreseen the 
deep grief of the good woman who, at tlie 
command of the chief man of the village, brought 
out her little sheep for sale. She and her son 
wept so bitterly at the loss of their pet that I almost 
doubted whether the money they received instead 
of it consoled them. 

We saw here several large snakes. 

On the following morning we were awakened 
by the trumpeting and drumming which announced 



the appearance of the Eajah's wife. Her palan- 
quin was draped with rose-coloured stuff, and had 
a lattice at each side, and silver embroideries 
above it. The procession consisted of a drummer, 
a trumpeter, two or three women on foot, and a 
considerable number of servants on horseback, 
with drums, trumpets, and kettledrums, which 



made a brave noise. The more distinguished the 
personage the greater the noise. The servants of 
tlie Kajah wore white and yellow turbans. 

The women of the upper classes always veil 
their faces, those of the lower orders very 
seldom. Their appearance is pleasing, but they 
soon look old on account of the hard work they 


do, and the nose-ring which is the fashion here 
gives them a disagreeable expression. 

At the city of Eampoor we were at last able 
to buy sugar, which we were much in need of. 
The bazaar here is well arranged; the wooden 
houses, ornamented with carving, are pretty. The 
house in which we were quartered looked out 
directly on the bazaar. There are a great number 
of pagodas, and another was just being built. 

As we were informed that thick materials were 
well made here, we ordered a merchant to come 
and show us some. Unfortunately our cook was 
roasting some mutton when the merchant appeared, 
so that, as a good Hindoo, he could not approach 
within either sight or smell of the meat, and was 
obhged to bargain with us by means of signs at 
some distance off, probably so that the impure 
smoke might not enter his mouth when he spoke. 
It was a highly original scene. 

Kainy weather came after the violent heat, and 
in some measure cooled the air. Altogether we 
suffered much more here from heat than we had 
done in the mountains. 

We had just settled ourselves in a small room, 
tlie only one in the station-building behind Eam- 


poor, when Major Eichards appeared, unexpectedly, 
with his wife. As there was not room here for us 
all, it occurred to us to make use of the shawls 
which we had just got, as well as those which we 
had bought in Ladak and Cashmere, in order to 
convert the verandah of the station-house into a 
room, in which our fellow-travellers passed the 
night. On the following day we received their 
warm thanks for this. 

The lombardar at this station had to provide 
us with the necessary provisions, and promised us 
not only mutton but also black game. We began 
to get desperately hungry, but nothing was yet to 
be seen of the promised food. Then my husband 
again resolved to adopt rather energetic measures. 
He commanded our people not to let the lom- 
bardar go till the provisions arrived. In vain the 
worthy paterfamilias declared that he wanted 
to go home to give the necessary orders, that 
he would return without fail and bring the 
desired provisions with him. This assurance had 
no effect. We were all frightfully hungry, and 
the poor magistrate probably no less so When 
at length the evening came on, he fell into a 
passion with the inhabitants, and gave such strict 


orders, that at last we were put in possession of 
the much- coveted food. 

On the way we had more disagreeable occur- 
rences. The drivers left their mules in the lurch 
and ran away ; so that my husband was again com- 
pelled to run after them and bring them back. 

The nine miles' distance from here to the 
station of Kashkar is really, on account of the 
ups and downs on the road, more like fifteen 
miles. At the highest point stands the house of a 
tea-planter, whose plantations are to be seen all 
round on all the mountain ridges and slopes. 

At Kashkar a post has already been established, 
and there is a beautiful roomy bungalow. The 
kansaman had everything there that hungry 
travellers could wish for, and we emptied with 
great enjoyment a bottle of beer, which beverage 
we had last drunk in Cashmere. There are mis- 
sionaries, both English and German, in the village, 
which possesses a church. Kashkar stands high, 
and therefore v/e found ourselves once more in 
a cool climate. 

The next station. Narkanda, lies at a height 
of nine thousand feet. By the comfort of its 


arrangements one sees at once that Simla, the 
residence of the Viceroy, is not far off. 

We found here plenty of rooms, with good beds, 
toilette services, &c. Each room is provided with 
a punkah. Large parties from Simla often make 
expeditions to this station. Of course such good 
arrangements mean high prices ; so that, for 
instance, a large sheep here costs fourteen rupees, 
a smaller one thirteen rupees, and a fowl one 
rupee, &c. Potatoes only are cheap here. 

Eound the houses of the natives little gar- 
dens are laid out, in which grow cactuses, banana- 
bushes, and laurels. 

An old dealer appeared and offered to buy 
our ponies. My husband promised to let him 
have them all with the exception of my Cashmere 
pony, which we meant to take with us by train. 
The old man could not refrain from telling us how 
many stags, goats, and bears he had shot in his 
life ; he seemed to exaggerate a great deal. 

At the last station we fell in with a great man}^ 
English people who also were on their way to 
Simla. My husband, therefore, rode forward to 
bespeak a room for us at the hotel. We heard 
that there were a great many people there already. 
One of the Englishmen who had come here, an 
officer, beat the village magistrate, because he had 


not provided him with milk, till he was covered 
with blood ; in this condition the magistrate went 
off straight to Simla to lodge a complaint. The 
Englishmen, especially the officers, behave in such 
an arrogant manner towards the natives, and 
handle them so roughly, that all the ' energetic 
measures ' of my husband were mere trifles in 

When my husband set off for Simla he pro- 
mised to send Lodi to meet me ; but Lodi had gone 
by a different route, and we missed each other in 
consequence. As I was riding through the town 
on my tired pony, thinking of various things, I 
suddenly heard the voice of a man whom my 
husband had sent to look for me : ' Mam-sahib, 
mam-sahib, Sahib ider ! ' (Madam, madam, here 
is the gentleman) He led me into a furnished 

My husband had gone to visit Mr. Baring, the 
brother and secretary of Lord Northbrook, the 
Viceroy, in order to thank him for his assistance 
during our journey. I was compelled to laugh 
when my husband related to me the way in which 
he found out the Viceroy's house, which is not dis- 
tinguished in any way from the other houses. He 



liad been directed in the usual way — ' Go straight 
on, then turn to the right, then take the first turn- 


ing on the left,' &c. He found that he was going 
wrong, and also could not obtain information. Then 
he saw in the courtyard of a house a perfect 
mountain of empty champagne-bottles, and said 


to himself, ' The Viceroy of India must Hve here '; 
and so, indeed, he did. Mr. Baring received him 
very affably, and told him that the Viceroy would 
like to see him. However, my husband was obliged 
to decline with many thanks, because we had to 
travel on at once. 

As we were assured, there is no lack of amuse- 
ment in Simla. At the street-corners we saw 
great advertisements and announcements of con- 
certs, the opening of an approaching exhibition of 
pictures ; a dog-show had just closed. In the streets 
we noticed people remarking our dog Sakti — 
' There is the dog that took the first prize. 
Look how long his hair is ! ' In the shops one 
can get literally anything one wants. What 
gives its chief attraction to Simla is, of course, 
the air and the climate, which is sure to be cool 
durincf the hottest months of the Indian summer. 
But to us Simla seemed to be a rather dirty little 
town, and far inferior to Darjeehng in the grandeur 
of its scenery. 

We called on General Lumsden, the chief of 
the staff of the Indian army, whose acquaintance 
we had made on the sea- voyage out to India. As 
he was also himself an artist, my husband showed 


him some sketches, of which he now had a large 

From here a mail-coach goes down from the 
mountain to the valley. Lodi had driven on 
with the baggage and some of the servants. Our 
two grooms returned to their homes in Leh and 
Lasu ; the only bearer from Cashmere who had 
made the whole journey with us set off for 
Srinagur. The little washerman could not resist 
stealing, as his final act, my husband's best shirt, 
for which he was punished by a deduction from his 
wages ; and, besides, the wicked fellow received no 
gratuity. As agreed upon, the ponies were bought 
by the old dealer, except my little grey horse 
from Cashmere, which we took with us. 

At nine o'clock we left Simla in the mail-coach, 
and at twelve o'clock we reached Umbala in terrific 
heat. Here we found Lodi with the things, and on 
tlie same day we took our places in the train. Our 
dogs, of course, were put into an iron cage. Ki 
resigned himself to his fate ; but Sakti, who could 
not stand any restraint on his liberty, resolved to 
fight for it. The whole way he was working at 


the iron grating with his teeth, so that when he was 
let out one of his teeth was broken and his mouth 
sore and full of blood. I suppose as a clever dog 
he wanted to make comparisons between an iron 
grating of English workmanship and the hairy 
ropes of Ladak. The comparison could not have 
been favourable to the latter. 






vor.. It. 


After a stay of two years in India I returned to 
Europe, tanned by the sun, with a disordered Hver 
and stomach, and suffering from intermittent fever, 
bringing with me a vast collection of dresses, 
carpets, arms, notes, and, above all, of sketches 
in oil. I at once set to work upon some large 
canvases ; but the next year the Eusso-Turkish 
war broke out, and as I had a great desire to see 
with my own eyes a regular European war, I threw 
aside the pictures I had begun and hurried to the 
scene of action. In order to get a near view of 
what was going on, I resolved to seize every oppor- 
tunity that should occur of going to the front. I 
took part with a friend in an attack on a Turkisli 
monitor on the Danube; I was with Generals 
Skobeleff and Gourko in the infantry engagements 
at Plevna and in the Balkans ; and, lastly, I took 
part in the entry into Adrianople at the liead of 



the cavalry detachment of my friend General 

Here the reader has my experience of the 
Danube — an experience for which I paid by two 
and a half months of illness at Bukarest. 


My good friend General Hall introduced me to 
Generals Nepokoitchitski, Levitski, and others ; and 
also, to my great astonishment, to General Skobeleff 
the younger. ' I knew a SkobelefFin Turkestan,' said 
I. ' I am he.' ' Is it possible you have aged so much ? 
We are old acquaintances then.' SkobelefF had, in 
fact, changed very much ; he had acquired a more 
manly appearance, and had put on the bearing of a 
general, and to some extent a general's way of speak- 
ing. In talking to me, however, he soon adopted the 
tone of a friend. He had just arrived. The two 
Crosses of the Order of St. George which he had 
won in Turkestan were the subject of many witti- 
cisms, and some one said that he must now show 
that he deserved them. This phrase, I remember, 
met with general approval and passed from mouth 


to mouth, as did also the assertion that the boy 
SkobelefF could not be trusted with even a company 
of soldiers. When Skobeleff heard that I was 
ij^oinor forward with his father, he bade me tell him 
that his son would soon join him. He had been 
appointed chief of the staff to his father, Dmitri 
Tvanovitch Skobeleff, who was in command of the 
advanced guard, — an appointment which was an 
intentional discfrace. 

The detachment commanded by the elder 
Skobeleff was composed of two brigades, the first 
of which consisted of a regiment of Don Cossacks 
and a regiment of Kuban Cossacks, while the 
second was made up of Vladicaucasians, Ossetins, 
and Infjjushes. The first brij^ade was commanded 
by Colonel Tutolmin, a prudent and excellent man, 
but excessively fond of the sound of his own voice ; 
the second by Colonel Wulfert, who had been 
made Knight of the Order of St. George for his 
distinguislied services in the storming of Tashkend. 
Wulfert was as silent as Tutolmin was talkative. 

The following were the officers in command of 
the several regiments : — of the Don Cossacks, 
Denis Orloff, a lively sympathetic fellow and a 
good comrade ; of the Kuban Cossacks, Kucharenko 
(son of the General Kucharenko who is well known 


in the Caucasus), an officer who had all the h)ok 
of a bold Caucasian, though, as it turned out, he 
was in a bad state of health ; of the Yladicaucasians, 
Colonel Levis — half Eussian, half Swede — a stout, 
florid, good-humoured, and brave soldier — atypical 
military man, in short ; of the Ingushes and Ossetins, 
an officer who was Eussian in appearance and in 
name — PankratiefF, if I remember rightly. 

I generally lodged in some peasant's house 
with the elder SkobelefF. He possessed a two- 
wheeled tarataika (small cart) and a couple of 
horses. In the morning, after the troops had 
started, we drove after them ; when we had 
caught them up, SkobelefF put on his huge papacha 
(Cossack cap), mounted a horse, rode round the 
regiments, greeting the officers and men, and then 
took his seat again in the tarataika, laid the pa- 
pacha under the seat, and put on once more his red 
convoy- cap. He had years ago commanded the 
imperial convoy, and still wore the convoy uni- 
form. When we came near a village he never for- 
got to throw open the flaps of his overcoat so as to 
show his smart tcherkesska embroidered with broad 
.silver lace. The Eoumanians were everywhere 
much impressed with the general's stately and 
characteristic appearance. I remember well how, 
at a review which the commander-in-chief held at 


Galatz, SkobelefTs splendid figure filled me with 
admiration. He was a handsome man, with great 
blue eyes and a full red beard, and sat his little 
horse as if it were a part of him. 

On the way we would tell each other stories, or 
SkobelefF would talk with Mishka, the coachman, 
about the bad shoeing of the near horse, or the 
rottenness of the reins, or the bad state of one of 
the tires, &c. Generally he would wrangle, scold 
the coachman, and threaten to send him away, and 
after we had crossed the frontier he would promise 
him a sound thrashing ' now that the ordinary law 
was no longer in force.' But Mishka knew well 
enough that these were but idle threats. Later on, 
when the younger Skobeleff, Michael, had joined 
our party, it was often hard to say which of the 
two the elder SkobelefF was speaking of or which 
he was calling — his son Misha, or his coachman 

We ordinarily drove far ahead of the troops and 
chose a good place for the midday halt ; here we 
would await them, trying meantime, if there were 
a house or an inn near, to procure milk, fresh or 
sour, and when the officers came up we would take 
a cold breakfast. 


I must mention yet a few more persons who 
were generally of our party. These are Staff- 
Captain Sacharoff, who was now acting as chief of 
the staff to this detachment — a very clever fellow ; 
Captain Derfelden, a cavalry officer now serving 
with our detachment, who, in spite of his German 
name, was a true Eussian; and, lastly, Captain 
Lukasheff of the Gatshina Cuirassiers, who, if I 
remember right, was temporarily acting as aide- 

The detachment included, besides the troops 
already mentioned, a battery of Don-Cossack 
artillery ; but their commander kept aloof from us 
and associated only with his own officers. The 
officers commanding the regiments of the second 
brigade, as well as Wulfert himself, were seldom 
with us, as they marched behind, and only appeared 
in Skobeleff's presence when they overtook us 
during our midday halt. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that our breakfast 
parties in a meadow, under shady trees or under the 
projecting roof of a Eoumanian cottage, were very 
animated and merry. When we had rested, the 
signal would be given to resume our march, and 
we would mount our tarataika once more and set 
off, followed by the detachment. 

Often we would ask questions of the peasants. 


male or female, whom we met on the road ; and 
our efforts to make ourselves understood on tliese 

occasions gave us no little amuvsement. 'You 
can't manage it,' Skobeleff would say ; ' let me 


question him.' Sometimes he did actually succeed 
in getting an answer. Once we turned off the 
road to speak to a Eoumanian who was minding 
a flock of sheep, and who was almost frightened out 
of his wits at sight of the general. Skobeleff" wanted 
to buy a small sheep for breeding. He stretched 
out his hands and began to make a feeble bleating 
noise. The peasant understood what he wanted, 
sold him the sheep, and looked after us, with a 
smile, for a long while. We took the animal into 
our vehicle, but presently had to banish him to 
the baggage-wagons, as he w^as too dirty to be a 
pleasant travelling-companion. 

On the arrival of the detachment at the place 
where, according to our marching orders, we were 
to halt for the night, dinner was prepared in the 
house which the general chose for his quarters. 
We had agreed amongst ourselves that Skobeleff 
should provide the substantial viands and the 
cook, Tutolmin the wine, Sacharoff the tea and 
sugar, and I the requisite sweets — such, for in- 
stance, as almonds and raisins, nuts, &c. Skobeleff" 
always dressed the salad himself, and, as he con- 
stantly tasted it, his beard would get covered with 
green leaves. 


He used often to send out his cook to one of 
the neighbouring gardens to steal young vine-leaves 
to put into the soup. 

When, for some reason or other, we were kept 
waiting for dinner, we tried to kill time with all 
kinds of absurdities and jokes. We composed 
verses to the cook on the dinner, or, according to 
circumstances, on the campaign, the weather, &c. 
I still recollect some verses which General Skobeleff, 
Colonel Tutolmin, Captain SacharofF, and Captain 
Derfelden made up together. 

My doggerel lines remained unfinished, because 
Dmitri Ivanovitch (the elder Skobeleff) begged me 
to add something on the order and discipline of 
the detachment, which naturally rather cooled my 
inspiration. My verses ran as follows : 

Jests and laughter fill the air, 
And songs in chorus shouted. 
All's alive and merry, 
All's alive and merry. 

'Tis Skobeleff with his battalions 
And his Don Cossacks, 
Marching 'gainst the Turks 
Marching 'gainst the Turks. 

Here they tramp, the brave Kubantsee 
And tlie ragged Ossetin 
Men of mettle all. 
Men of mettle all. 


Here the guns come lumbering : 
In battle perhaps they'll help us. 
But who can prophesy ? 
But who can prophesy ? 

In the rear the hangers-on, 
Surgeons, clerks, and Lord knows who. 
In a motley throng, 
In a motley throng. 

The proposal to continue these verses was not 
carried out. After dinner, until tea was brought, 
there was more chatting and joking, and often 
songs, in which the general did not disdain to join 
with his bass voice. Tutolmin especially was 
fond of singing ; he would hold on some of the 
notes with care, often closing his eyes with plea- 
sure, particularly when his favourite song was 
sung — the soldiers' air : 

Live and drive dull care away, 
And be thankful to the Czar : 
or — 

Let us live and banish care 
And swear eternal friendship. 

We went to bed in good time, as we had to be 
up early. 

At one halting-place we had just lain down to 
sleep when shots were Jieard, and a general tumult 
ensued. While dressing myself I asked Skobelefi 


what it could be. ' The Turks,' he thought. In a 
few minutes tlie whole detachment was on tli(^ 
move ; unfortunately my horse's bridle had got 
lost, which made me later than the others in starting*. 
In the impenetrable darkness I rode through hedges 
and ditches, and in consequence nearly fell from 
my horse. When I reached the division, already 
ranored in rank and file, I heard orders given in 
an under- tone : ' Where is the artillery ? Let the 
artillery come here. The Kubantsee to the right.' 
Then the general's voice reached me : ' Vassily 
Vassilievitch ! Where is Vassily Yassilievitch ? ' I 
quickly took my place among the staff. 

A patrol was sent out, and it was found that a 
Jewish sutler who was taking his night's rest here, 
and had got thoroughly frightened in the dark, 
had taken it into his head to fire a few shots from 
his revolver in order to restore his courage. The 
Cossacks, especially Orloff, begged for permission 
to give this Jew, who had deprived the whole de- 
tachment of sleep, a sound beating ; but I interposed 
on his behalf, and suggested that for each shot fired 
he should receive a cut with the nagaika. This 
was done. The Jew received three cuts only, but 
they were good ones. 


In the large villages the Cossacks were quartered 
in houses, but in the intervening country in tents. 
On the whole the troops behaved well, though 
there were some complaints against them : in one 
place a Cossack had carried oiF a goose ; in another 
a sheep had been stolen, and consumed with such 
skill that neither skin nor bones were to be found. 
Complaints were also brought, but only once, of 
a woman being attacked by Cossacks. 

We marched on with great caution, as if in 
an enemy's country, with patrols, which SkobelefF 
called ' eyes,' on our flanks. Although some of 
the officers laughed at these precautions, they were 
probably not unnecessary ; for one could not be 
sure that some wandering party of Tcherkesses 
might not cross the Danube on a dark night, 
do some mischief, and alarm the neighbourhood. 
Although we were still some distance from the 
Danube, the inhabitants all round us were in 
the greatest excitement in consequence of the 
constant rumours that the enemy was about 
to cross the river — now at this spot and now at 

The officers, as well as the Cossacks of the de- 
tachment, led a quiet life ; there was neither hard 
drinking nor high play. The only thing I can 
remember is a little entertainment given by the 


colonel of the Kuban regiment, Kucharenko, who 
celebrated his birth-day with a feast. Colonel 
Orloff appeared with a half-dozen of Don champagne 
— the last, as he assured us ; presently another half- 
dozen appeared, which was said to be quite the 


last; however, yet another half-dozen followed, 
which was really the last. 

The chief interest of the feast consisted in the 
roast foal, of which notice had been given long 


before. Although in Turkestan I had eaten horse- 
flesh, I had never tasted foal. 

The roast was served. ' Gentlemen,' cried 
Kucharenko, who stammered violently, ' will you 
be pleased to partake of roast foal ? ' — the disli 
contained huge chops and steaks of rather bluish 
meat. All tried it. I Uked the meat, the 
majority did not ; some ate a little, others none 
at all. 

Now the second dish was served. ' Gentlemen, 
here is mutton for those who do not care for 
roast foal ! ' The guests fell to, and were heard to 
exclaim : ' This is quite a different thing ; this 
is real meat ! ' When all had laid down their 
knives and forks, Kucharenko stammered out 
again : ' Do not be angry, gentlemen : both were 
foal meat.' 

I possessed neither horse nor carriage, and was 
therefore obliged to provide myself with both. It 
was settled that Sotnik W., who commanded a sotnia 
(hundred) of Kuban Cossacks, and always knew 
how to get everything everywhere, should procure 
me both. The general introduced me to him. ' All 
right,' said W. ; and the very next day I received a 
chestnut horse, which, to be sure, was blind of one 


eye, but good-tempered and quiet, could see well 
with the sound eye, and (most important of all) cost 
only seventy roubles — not a high price under the 

Later on, at Bukarest, W. also got me a horse 
and carriage from a Russian settler, a Skopets, for 
400 francs. For my carriage SkobelefF gave me a 
Cossack foot-soldier from the Don, called Ivan, and 
for my horses a young Ossetin called KaitofF. 

Shortly after this the younger SkobelefF arrived. 
His horses had preceded him. One, which his 
father had given him, was an English thorough- 
bred, for which 2,000 francs had been paid ; the 
second, a white stallion of Persian race, had, I 
suppose, some good qualities, but in most respects 
was not well formed ; the third, a yellow chestnut 
of Turcoman blood from Khiva, did not seem to be 
one of the best horses of that country. 

The young general had been already talked of 
in the division, and I, being acquainted with him, 
was often asked about him. I told everybody tliat 
he was a brave and excellent officer. 

The relation between tlie elder SkobelefF and 
his son was a friendly one ; but it seemed to me, 
nevertheless, that Dmitri Ivanovitch did not quite 



like tlie Cross of St. George of the third class 
which his son had, because he hhnself had only the 
fourth. Moreover, the father spoke sarcastically 
of his son Michael's military service in Turkestan 
(partly, no doubt, because he was himself an old 
Caucasian), and laughed at the engagements there 
as child's-play. Once, at table, I was obliged to 
stand up warmly for the young general, and the old 
man was quite annoyed. Altogether, it must be 
confessed that young SkobelefT to a certain extent 
disturbed the orderly patriarchal conditions of our 
camp life by his martial stories and his plans and 
proposals for the coming campaign. 

He had at that time a number of plans ready, 
not only for taking the whole army and its several 
divisions across the Danube, but also for surpris- 
ing the Turkish pickets, batteries, &c. He com- 
municated his plans in confidence first to one 
and then to another of the older officers of the 
detachment, to the great astonishment of many. 
' He is mad,' said S. to me ; ' a fresh plan every 
hour. He takes one by the arm, with " I say, do you 
know " — and begins to talk sheer nonsense.' 

As I was sincerely attached to SkobelefT, I 
advised him to be more reserved and cautious. 
He asked with much interest what impression he 
had made on the detachment. I replied that his 


youth and figure, his Cross of St. George, and other 
points had undoubtedly made a certain impres- 
sion ; but that he must take care not to efface 
it by his schemes, which, however practical and 
easy of execution they miglit appear to him per- 
sonally, bored everybody else. Skobeleff thanked 
me warmly, saying, ' That is the advice of a true 

We came within a short distance of Bukarest, 
but did not enter the town, on account of the con- 
vention which had been made. 

Our former agent in Constantinople, Colonel 
Bobrikoff, accompanied by several Eoumanian offi- 
cers, rode out from the town to meet us ; they 
led us round through the suburbs, and in one of 
these, by the Danube, we took up our quarters. 
This proceeding caused great discontent in the 
detachment; the condition that we should not 
march through the town was called liumiliating, 
but altogether unjustly. 

When the troops had been billeted, the elder 
Skobeleff was informed that the commander-in- 
chief was stopping at Bukarest on his way and was 
lodging in the house of Consul Stuart. The wortliy 
Dmitri Ivanovitch was higldy delighted, and as he 



sat on the bed threw up his legs straight into the 
air. Presently he rode off, displaj^ing the flag, of 
blue silk with a large white cross, which was 
carried before the detachment on the march 
through Eoumania. 

Accompanied by young SkobelefT, I drove 
through the town. I must confess that I was 
ashamed of my companion, for he put out his 
tongue at the ladies we met, particularly at the 
pretty ones. 

SkobelefT felt his inaction painfully. It was 
evident that a separate command was not to be 
entrusted to him, and he deeply regretted having 
left Turkestan, where, it was rumoured, a de- 
monstration against England was preparing. The 
thought of a campaign in India gave him no peace. 
'We were both fools to come here,' he said to Captain 
Masloff, who had come with him from Turkestan, 
and, like him, was longing to be back. I advised 
Michael Dmitrievitch to have a little patience, 
whereupon he rephed : ' Let us wait, Yassily 
Vassilievitch. I understand waiting, and shall be 
sure to take what comes to me.' Masloff I advised 
to join fortunes with Skobeleff, who, it was certain, 
would find his right place. It is a pity that he 
succeeded in doing so too late, that his youth was 
no long a stumbling-block, and that this fiery spirit 


was not allowed free scope. The result of the cam- 
paign would then have been very diHerent. 

The elder Skobeleff gave us a dinner in the Huk 
Hotel, where I also had taken rooms. The inn was 
good and not expensive, and drove a roaring trade, 
it was said. But, indeed, there was scarcely a 
person in Bukarest who did not, somehow or other, 
get profit from us Russians. The owners of inns 
and hotels must really have made their fortunes. 

As I had to provide the sweets for our common 
table, I ransacked all the shops in the town, but 
could find nothing except some inferior raisins 
and hard dried plums ; everything else was sold 
out. It was much to my annoyance that I had to 
offer my good comrades these rather untempting 

After two days' rest we marched on in our old 
order. One day the DonCossacks led the van, the 
next day the Kubantsee, for the most part singing 
and playing Cossack music, which, if not always 
harmonious, sounded at any rate loud and bold. I 
remember one officer in particular who conducted 
the music in the Kuban regiment — a fine, well- 
built, handsome man. As he conducted he beat a 


Turkisli drum ; and how he did beat it ! One could 
only listen to it at a respectful distance. The 
troops were disposed of as before — partly in cot- 
tages, if there was room ; if not, in tents as near as 
possible to the water. For ourselves, we always 
found some house — now a peasant's, now a land- 
owner's. I sometimes went with Dmitri Ivanovitch 
to the farms by the way, where, if the ovvner was 
absent, they willingly showed us everything, and 
offered us dultchas — i.e. fruit-syrup — with the usual 
glass of water. Once we lodged in a large, very 
roomy house belonging to a landowner. But that 
night our detachment did not fare well ; though 
they searched carefully, no dry place could be 
found, and the Cossacks were obliged to pitch their 
tents on swampy ground ; moreover, the weather 
was damp, and cold rain fell the whole time. I 
remember that our commanding officer was then 
accused of making his troops encamp too near his 
own quarters. 

While there, the elder Skobeleff received orders 
to appear at headquarters, and, evidently uneasy, 
he set off. The fact was, that during our stay in 
Bukarest the Ingushes belonging to our detach- 
ment had had a light — such, at least, was the story 
— and officious people thereupon reported in in- 
fluential quarters that the Mussulmans among the 


Ingushes, and some of those among the Ossetins, 
had expressed their disHke of the campaign ; nay, 
these busybodies actually pretended that they had 
seen the so-called malcontents throw away their 
cartridges, saying that they would not fire on their 
fellow-believers the Turks. 

All this proved later to be mere nonsense, but 
gossip did not fail to spread the report that there 
was a want of discipline in the detachment, and 
even went so far as to hint that it was almost in a 
state of mutiny. The commander-in-chief, dis- 
quieted by these rumours, summoned Skobeleff, 
on whose advice it was decided to send back the 
Ingushes and the Ossetins to Eussia. A harsher 
and, under the circumstances, a more unjust 
measure could scarcely be imagined ; and these 
rough soldiers shed tears as they tried to move 
their commanders from their purpose and to 
establish their own innocence ; but all in vain, for 
their return to Eussia was definitely decided upon. 
They were obhged to start on their way home to 

During Skobeleflfs absence his son took his 
place. How pleased he was to be able to ride 
along the ranks of the Cossacks and call out to 
them, ' Good-day, children ! ' Even at that time, 
when I dissuaded him from attempting to get leave 


to return to Turkestan, he said to me sadly, ' Do 
you think, Yassily Vassihevitch, that I do not find 
it hard to be unable to greet the men, when I have 
led regiments into battle, and had command in a 
province ? ' 

The Cossacks recognized the difference between 
father and son ; you might hear them say, ' We 
could do with a commander like that.' When the 
elder Skobeleff learnt this, later, he was annoyed. 
' He cannot have this post,' he said to me, ' because 
I have it.' The old man was called Pasha — I do not 
know why ; Sacharoff called him Eygun Pasha, 
because he often hemmed loudly to clear his throat. 
The Cossacks frequently sang a parody of the 
well-known soldiers' song, ' There was a battle at 
Poltava,' which began with the words 'At Junis 
was a battle fought,' in allusion to the Eussian 
volunteers in the war between Turkey and Servia. 
Among the rest the following lines — 

Our mighty emperor — 
God keep his memory — 

were parodied as follows : — 

Our mighty M . . . — 
May the devil take him — 
Only in the rear was seen, 
"Writing telegrams. 


The elder Skobeleff heard this song often with- 
out taking any notice, of it ; but the younger, on 
the very first day of his short command, said to 
the men, ' I beg of you, children, not to sing that 
song, because it ridicules our brothers who fought 
bravely for the cause of the Slav.' 

He made inquiries about the men's food and 
about various other matters concerning the detach- 
ment : and this, becoming speedily known to the 
privates, procured him great popularity. 

In everything that related to the health of the 
troops the elder Skobeleff trusted completely to 
the integrity of the brigadier-generals, who in turn 
relied on the colonels of the regiments ; and the 
result was that in reality there was no control 
whatever. An active young doctor reported that 
the regiment stationed at K. was insufficiently pro- 
vided with medical appliances, and that in addition 
tlie food was bad. The officer in command of the 
division acted in an extremely patriarchal fashion, 
for he questioned the colonel of the regiment, and 
in consequence removed the doctor from his post, 
ascribing his damaging statement to his personal 
dislike of his colonel. 

' What a mean fellow that doctor is ! ' said the 
colonel to me. ' When he came into the regiment, 
he had nothing ; I gave him a Cossack, I gave him 


a horse, and one thing and another ; and now just 
see how he repays me.' 

We soon reached Frateshti, near the railway- 
station of the same name, whence there is a view 
of the Danube gUttering like a silver band in the 
sunshine. As the detachment was to take up a 
position along the bank of the river, and there was 
as yet no talk of crossing, I thought I would seize 
the opportunity of going to Paris for a short time. 
Some of my painting-materials had suffered severely 
on the way, so that it was necessary either to send 
for new ones or to go myself. I preferred the 
latter, told SkobelefF of my intention, and set off the 
same day, via Bukarest, for Ploieshti, which was 
then our headquarters. 

Twenty days later I was back again. There 
was a great deal going on at headquarters then, 
because the Emperor was with the army. In the 
evening of the same day I went to Giurgevo, where 
Skobeleff was stationed with his division. The next 
morning the thunder of cannon awoke me, and a 
Cossack brought me the following message by order 


of the commanding officer : ' The Turks are bom- 
barding Giurgevo. Come and look.' 

I rode down to the bank of the Danube. The 
day was fine and bright, and Eustchuk, with its 
forts, its white minarets, and the distant cam]), 
liy before me as if in the palm of my hand. The 
elder SkobelefF with his staff sat under the pro- 
jecting roof of a house which overhung the river. 
The Turks, as it turned out, were bombarding, not 
tlie town, but the trading-vessels which lay between 
the shore and a little island, and which they 
thought were intended to take our troops across. 
They were strangely built barks, reminding one of 
the last century ; and any one who believed that 
the Eussian troops proposed to make their way to 
the Turkish shore in these galleys must have had 
a very poor opinion of our means of crossing the 

Several shells had already fallen among the 
houses on the extreme edge of the town, and the 
confusion which followed was a sight to see : 
tlieinliabitants snatching up the most indispensable 
of their belongings and flying to the other side of 
the town. I went on board the vessels, and took 
my station on the middle one in order to observe 
on the one side the hurly-burly in the houses, 
and on the other the falling of the bombs into the 


water. Just at that moment a shell fell into a 
long ^Tovernment building, which was probably 
some kind of magazine, but at that time served 
as quarters for half a sotnia of Kuban Cossacks ; 
a second followed immediately. When the first 
shell struck the wall, the Cossacks began to collect 
their thino^s ; but when the second broke throui^h 
the roof, they crept out like cockroaches, hanging 
their heads, and, with dagger in one hand and cap 
in the other, ran quickly into the streets, hugging 
the walls as they went. 

Some of the shells, plunging into the sandy 
shore and tliere bursting, threw up the sand as if 
by magic in the shape of a bouquet or a cauliflower 
head, from the centre of which solid clods and 
stones flew into the air, while above it rose a thick 
column of white smoke. 

The shells fell near the spot where I was ; a 
few only reached the shore — most of them fell 
on the ships, or into the water between or in 
front of them. Twice the bark on which I stood 
was struck. The first shot struck the bows ; 
the second pierced the hull and turned everything 
between-decks upside down. The explosion was 
so violent that I cannot call it anything but hellish, 
though my knowledge of hell does not rest on per- 
sonal experience. The crash, I remember, drove 


two puppies on deck, where they began to play ; 
the explosion merely startled them and made them 
prick up their ears, and then they set at each 
other again. 

It was most interesting to see how the bombs 
fell into the water and made fountains rise high 
into the air. When the first smoke rose I felt 
rather queer, and thought, ' Now the place where 
you are standing will be struck ; you will be thrown 
down and hurled into the water, and no one will 
know what has become of you.' 

The Turks threw fifty shells and then became 
silent. The result of this bombardment was very 

' And where were you ? ' I was asked ; 'how 
could you miss such an interesting performance, 
done gratis too ? ' ' Oh, I saw it better than you, 
for I was on that ship the whole time.' ' Impos- 
sible ! ' they all cried with one accord. ' Let us 
go and see what havoc they have made,' said Sko- 
beleff. We went on board all the vessels, saw 
what damage had been done, but could not find 
the dogs. Had they got frightened and crept 
away to hide themselves, or had they been hurled 
into the water ? 

I did not get many compliments for having 
made my observations from tlie ship. Some simply 


refused to believe that I had placed rayself in the 
middle of the target ; others called it useless bra- 
vado ; it did not occur to any one that these very 
observations were the object of my stay. If 1 
had had a paint-box with me, I should have painted 
some explosions. 

The detachment placed pickets along the 
Danube to a great distance. On the left flank, 
in Malorosh, were stationed Orloffs Don-Cossacks ; 
in the centre, stretching as far as the village of 
Mali-Dijos, the Kuban Cossacks ; and beyond them, 
reaching to the village of Petroshain, the Ossetins. 
I first rode to the Don-Cossacks at Malorosh, who 
had built themselves a model watch-tower. The 
Turks, enraged at this, fired upon the Cossacks, 
which OrlofFdid not like at all. The shells, falling 
among the horses, terrified them and drove them 
away, so that it was difiicult to find them again. 
The Cossacks made an attempt to reply with their 
httle field-guns, but soon had to give it up in 
order not to disgrace themselves. 

Batteries were being erected close by Giurgevo, 
and I went with the two Skobeleffs to look at the 


works. The elder Skobeleff observed to the 
engineer officer that he was making the boarding 
of the platform much too thin. The rather 
dandified young officer who was doing the honours 
replied ; ' It is thick enough for the Turks, your 
Excellency.' A little further from the town, at 
the first village, Slobodsei, another battery was 
being erected, of siege-guns, apparentl}^, which 
were to carry nine versts. There the energetic 
Colonel Pliuichinski was at work. 

The little town of Giurgevo had undergone no 
change, except that here and there greater activity 
than usual prevailed. Many of the inhabitants cer- 
tainly had been frightened away by the bombard- 
ment ; the houses on the shore in particular stood 
empty ; but within the town, in the squares and 
streets, there were great throngs of people, and 
trade was brisk. The hotels and inns were filled 
with officers carousing — some alone and some in 
groups, some with women and some without them ; 
and their merriment was not always restrained with- 
in the limits of propriety. One evening, when I 
entered an inn with S. and other officers to have 
supper, we found a drunken company there, who 
had taken off sabres and caps, some even their 


tunics, and had put them on the girls who were 
drinking with them. And all this took place in the 
public room ! 

The younger officers of our detachment — the 
above-mentioned S., L., and others — frequented a 
certain garden, to which they were attracted by the 
charms of the damsels who sang and played the 
harp there, and made Skobeleff so eager by their 
account of the pleasures of the entertainment, that 
the old man, who feared to compromise himself by 
visiting the garden, decided to take a peep secretly. 
He was once seen to steal along by the garden and 
look through a hole in the fence, which exploit 
brought upon him well-merited raillery. 

At Bukarest, through M. I). SkobelefF, I had 
become acquainted with MacGahan, the well- 
known correspondent of the ' Daily News ' ; later, at 
Giurgevo, I met Mr. Forbes, when he came with 
some communication to the staff of the detachment. 
I was the only one there who could speak English, 
and therefore acted as interpreter, endeavouring 
at the same time to soften the excessive coldness 
with which he was received and his questions 
answered. In order to escape reproaches for my 
indulgence to the ' deceitful English,' I avoided 



entering into conversation with Mr. Forbes in our 
casual meetings. I must confess that I did not find 
it easy, as one could see that he felt the general 
mistrust entertained towards him as an Englishman, 
and exerted himself to be pleasant. 

The officer in command of the division lived in 
a little house on the river-bank, where we met 
every day at dinner. Here we were joined by 
Prince Tserteleff, formerly secretary to the ambas- 
sador at Constantinople, who had entered the 
Kuban regiment as a subaltern (uriadnik), and 
was now serving in SkobelefTs detachment. The 
younger Skobeleff, who was chief of the staff of 
the detachment, rarely associated with us ; but 
he passed most of his time at Bukarest, whither 
he was chiefly attracted by the women of all 
nationalities who gathered there from every part of 
Europe. The feasting and carousing in that town 
were a sight to see. From the ensign who for the 
first time had three hundred roubles in his pocket 
to the high official who threw away his thousands, 
all showed their Slav nature ; all rioted, and ate 
and drank, but especially drank. Michael Skobeleff 
at this time had not a farthing in his pocket ; so 
that he was ready to take anything he could get ; 


from his father especially, who wa-^ not exactly 
generous, he tried to squeeze money. Once, when 
Skobeleff asked his father for money, the latter sent 
him four gold pieces. The son was beside himself. 
' Why, I give every lackey a larger present than 
that ! ' he cried indignantly. During that gay time, 
in fact, tlie largest sum would scarcely have been 
enough for him. 

I used often to walk with the elder Skobeleff 
in the avenues on the boulevards. ' Let us see how 
a spy is disposed of,' he said one day. We sat dow^n 
on a bench opposite a house into which Colonel 
Parentsoff and the aide-de-camp to the commander- 
in-chief had gone. In front of the steps stood 
soldiers, two to the left and two to the right. We 
sat some time, and I should have gone in to be pre- 
sent at the trial if Skobeleff had not held me back. 

But out they came at last on to the steps, the 
spy in front, his hands in the pocket of his jacket, 
as if the matter did not concern him, because he felt 
he was innocent. But when he saw the soldiers 
he seemed to realize that the affiir was serious ; 
he stood still a few seconds, and then went down 
the steps. 

It was a certain Baron K. ; I do not know 


Avh ether he was really a spy ; but probably com- 
promising papers were found on him, for he was 
sent to Siberia. After two months, however, he 
w^as allowed to return. 

Before my departure for Paris I had met at 
headquarters Lieutenant SkrydlofF of the naval 
guard. He was then going on a reconnoitring 
expedition on the Danube, and invited me to Mali- 
Dijos, where the Danube division of the naval 
guard was stationed. He told me that he intended 
to attack a Turkish ironclad with his torpedo-boat, 
and wanted me to go with him. I was quite willing, 
but made him give me his w^ord of honour that I 
should see an explosion. I could not afford to miss 
so rare an opportunity. 

Soon after my return to Giurgevo I paid a visit 
to the naval officers, who lived in a village some 
distance from the river- bank, because the dynamite 
and pyroxiline with which the torpedos are charged 
had to be protected as far as possible from the 
Turkish fire. 

Skrydloff and I had been comrades long ago 
as naval cadets, though he was my junior by two 
years; and we had been through a campaign 
together on the fricrate ' Svetlana.' When I was 


sergeant in tlie naval cadet corps he was under me, 
and more than once I had had to reprimand him 
severely, particularly for constantly talking and 
whispering at the front. 

I quartered myself on him and his comrade 
Podiapolski in their little house, which was situated 
in a large, dirty square. Sometimes we dined at 
the officers' mess, but more often cooked our- 
selves something at home, on which occasions the 
denchtchik (officer's servant), a good fellow, gave us 
a helping hand. We slept on the staircase under 
curtains, because the gnats (it was then the end of 
May) were very troublesome. 

On the very first day I was initiated into the 
great secret of the two chums. When the naval 
guard left St. Petersburg, the head of the Avell- 
known English firm which contracted for them 
presented the division with a case of sherry to take 
with them, which Skrydloff* undertook to convey to 
the Danube. So fcir he kept his word ; but no one 
besides Podiapolski knew anything about this case, 
and so the friends partook of the sherry, which was 
very good, and entertained guests with it occasion- 
ally, until at last the truth became known, and the 
case, now somewhat lighter, was carried ofi" to the 

The commander of the whole torpedo squadron, 


Post- Captain Novikoff, was living in the same square 
— a very brave officer, who had been decorated 
for his services at Sebastopol with the small Cross 
of St. George. When I met him for the first time, 
at the table of the commander-in-chief, our host 
asked him what he had received the cross for. 
' I blew up a powder-magazine,' replied N., in 
such a deep bass that everybody was startled. 
The same bass voice, though somewhat subdued, 
was heard in the cottage in which he lived. When 
we had tea with him, we tried to gather from 
his talk, and from the arrangements he was making, 
whether the laying of torpedos would soon begin. 
The object of this operation (which had been 
long expected) was to protect the passage of the 
Danube, which was to take place immediately 

Novikoff was indefatigable. Brave and cool- 
headed, he had only two noticeable faults — first, 
he deafened everybody with his bass voice, and 
secondly, he would speak of the torpedos as bombs. 
Nevertheless he received a ready pardon for both 
these ofiences, on account of his kind and simple 


I went frequently with SkrydlofF when he had 
instructions to carry out. We went about the 
river (by night, of course), and put buoys to mark 
the way which the torpedo-boats were to take in 
laying the torpedos. The Danube was still much 
swollen, and some torpedo-boats of rather deep 
draught could not pass everywhere along the low 
flooded bank. The channel of a little river flowing 
into the Danube had to be sounded and marked 
with buoys ; torpedoes were to be laid there also. 

As express orders had been given not to alarm 
the Turks and arouse their attention, but rather 
to lull them into security as far as possible, we 
did not set to work until after nightfall. By the 
morning the buoys were fixed ; but the clearing of 
the channel, which was barred at the mouth with 
solid posts, gave us a great deal to do, and we 
could not get the work done in the time. When 
we had made a little provisional passage for the 
sloop, we rowed into the Danube, partly to show 
our courage, partly to ascertain whether there were 
Turks at the sentry box on the island. Using the 
oars very softly, scarcely dipping them into the 
water, we passed along a dense bed of willows. 
Every sudden noise — the splashing of a fish, the call 
of a night-bird — made us shudder. We landed at the 
little island, walked round, and convinced ourselves 


that the Turks had evacuated it, although they had 
been seen mowing grass shortly before. We had 
come down with the stream ; the Turkish bank was 
quite close. The current was so strong that it was 
difficult to make way against it. In order not to tire 
our men and rouse the attention of the Turks, we 
soon turned back. By morning we were at home. 
Skrydloflfs assistant, Midshipman Niloff, who had 
made the night trip with us, cleared out the little 
river completely the following night. 

Another time we went on a secret mission to 
all the troops posted on the Danube. We rowed 
on past the Kuban Cossacks, the Vladicaucasians, 
and the Ossetins to Simnitza, where some hussars — 
I forget which — had placed outposts. 

At Parapan I became acquainted with General 
DragomirofT, who was entrusted with preparations 
for the passage of the river. When he was assured 
that I was not a correspondent, he spoke so freely, 
rationally, and logically about the course of affairs, 
that we — i.e. I, Skrydloff", and Wulfert, with whom 
we were staying — were quite astonished. Dragomi- 
rofT enjoyed then, and still enjoys, great popularity, 
and since SkobelefTs death he remains one of the 
best generals of our army, if not tlie very best. 

The officers with whom we dined were ex- 
tremely pleasant ; they fed us well and provided 


US promptly with the necessary horses. Skrydloff, 
however, would have been better pleased if a little 
care in the choice had been added to the prompti- 
tude ; for such Kosinantes fell to his lot, almost it 
seemed intentionally, that on the ride from the 
hussars to the Cossacks he had to whip his tall 
brown horse constantly, and (what was more un- 
pleasant still) in spite of his efforts to ride in the 
English fashion, namely, rising in the stirrups, he 
grazed himself severely. 

I made a sketch of the Danube and a Cossack 
picket on the bank, but on the whole painted very 
little. I rode to Giurgevo, went to the Cossacks, 
looked on at the sappers' works, or went with 
Skrydloff to try some machinery on his torpedo- 
boat ' Shutka.' In order not to attract the attention 
of the Turks, we were obliged to go after sunset or in 
bad weather, and the funnel could not be allowed to 
smoke nor to throw out sparks, so that we had to 
use only the best steam coal. The Turks did not 
know, and were not to know, that we had a whole 
fleet of small steamers. 

We once started at a rather late hour in very 
stormy weather. The wind became so strong that 
the ' Shutka ' could hardly make her way back. 


The muddy Danube was roaring terribly ; heavy 
rain wrapped everything in thick darkness. This 
suggested to SkrydlofF the idea of carrying out a 
long-intended attack on one of the Turkish ironclads 
which were lying before Eustchuk. We knew that 
one ironclad was lying in front of the forts, another 
more to the right behind the little island. As, from 
the hammering which had been going on for the 
last few days, it was to be supposed that they had 
been furnishing the latter with a crinoline or some 
similar means of protection, we could only count on 
getting near the first ironclad. In such weather it 
was possible to get close to the ironclad almost un- 
noticed. ' Shall we try it ? ' asked SkrydlofF. ' I 
am ready.' But we did not go after all. SkrydlofF 
said finally, ' It is not a question of destroying a 
superfluous Turkish ironclad, but of laying torpedos 
and making the passage of the river possible for 
our army. With such an important object in view, 
it would be imprudent, nay, even wrong, to risk one 
of our best torpedo-boats, of which, as it is, the 
number is not very large. What do you think?' 
'I dare say you are right,' I replied. 

We decided to land, but, in consequence of the 
bad weather, mistook our direction, put in at the 
wrong place, a very long way from our village, and 
did not reach home till night. On the promontory 


where we landed there was a picket of three Cos- 
sacks ; and these fellows, wrapped in their burkars 
(Caucasian for ' cloaks '), were so sound asleep that 
we had to wake them by force. If a party of 
Tcherkesses had come, thej^ would have been 
slaughtered like sheep. I did not conceal the 
occurrence from the commander of the sotnia, but 
first exacted a promise that the Cossacks should go 
unpunished this time. 

The commander of the sotnia stationed at 
Mali-Dijos was K. P. V., the same omniscient 
and ubiquitous officer who at Skobeleffs request 
had bought me my horse and carriage. I ])ecame 
rather intimate with this peculiar person, and 
often visited him. His first question when I came 
was whether I did not want some borshtch (beetroot- 
soup). ' Well, then, tea at any rate,' he would call 
out, and without waiting for my answer order it to 
be got ready. From what plantations he got his 
tea I do not know^, but remember very well that 
it only just coloured the water, and that K. P. 
considered it good. There were no teaspoons, 
although the host told his denchtchik every time to 
bring teaspoons. The latter would then go to the 
hedge and cut a switch neatly with his dagger. 


K. P. drank tea in economical fashion, taking the 
sugar into his mouth ; if he did not use a piece quite 
up he threw back the rest of it into the sugar- 
basin. His conversation with me, as probably with 
every other y)erson, began with the stereotyped 
question, ' Well, do they say we are going to cross 
soon ? ' Then he passed on to the rumours of 
peace, which, arising from unknown sources, flew 
about even before the war operations began, and 
lie never forgot to inquire, more or less confiden- 
tially, how money could be sent home in the best, 
safest, and most advantageous manner, and whether 
gold could be sent. 

Kusma Petrovitch was evidently very fond of 
his home, and the more the campaign was pro- 
tracted, the more frequent and obstinate were the 
rumours which reached him, through unknown 
channels, of the speedy conclusion of peace. He 
talked a great deal of his farm near Stavropol, 
of his eldest son Kusmitch and his precocious 
intelligence and early development. He also de- 
scribed the hare and fox-hunting when the first 
snow iell, for which he had purchased his sporting 
dog Milka. Every time I visited him, he offered 
me the dog as a present. He would also talk 
about the battles with the mountaineers on the 
Kuban, without representing himself as a Jiero ; on 


the contrary, he confessed quite openly that he 
saved his life by running away in such and such 
an enfyagement, which act the Cossacks do not 
Consider dishonourable, as they hold that as long 
as one is superior to the enemy one must kill and 
defeat him, but that in the opposite case one must 
save oneself, and the quicker the better. 

Kusma Petrovitch also came out as a musician. 
I went to his quarters once by invitation, along 
with Skrydloff and two other naval officers, and 
found him dressed in a fur beshmet (jacket), with a 
violin in his hand, conducting a chorus of singers. 
I am bound to admit that the hand which guided 
the bow was more bold than practised ; but, as the 
saying goes, you can't expect a man to do more 
than his best. His speech was always calm and 
tranquil, and so were his eyes, which sometimes 
had an absent look. He had a very calm manner, 
too, in dealing with his men, and never abused 
them except in extreme cases. 

He almost worshipped his horse — a little black 
animal from Kabarda — and fed and coddled it so 
that it got quite round like a juicy apple ; but for 
riding he used another horse. 'A horse like that,' 
he used to say of his favourite, ' is no longer to 
be found even in Kabarda I ' and he would then 
declare that he would not sell it at any price. 


This did not, however, prevent his selling it to me 
later for three hundred roubles, although it was 
scarcely worth more than a hundred or a hundred 
and fifty. In a word, one found in him a typical 
Cossack, who had risen from the ranks, who was 
no coward, though not particularly brave (both 
bravery and cowardice being equally rare among 
the Cossacks) ; a man without any cultivation 
whatever, but with the capacity of making himself 
at home in any position, of finding provisions and 
forage where they seemed absolutely not to exist, 
of pursuing the enemy boldly, when he retreated, 
and, when he attacked, of retreating before him 
without loss of honour. 

Skrydlofi* told me, in confidence, that he had 
seen at Novikofi's house a paper from head- 
quarters which expressed the dissatisfaction of the 
commander-in-chief at the backward state of the 
preparations, whereby the laying of the pontoons 
(which were quite ready) and the passage of the 
whole army were delayed. This, of course, meant 
that the passage would take place during the next 
few days, although coals and other things were 
still wanting. He also told me that he and Ch. 
had been appointed to attack the enemy's iroii- 


clads, in case the latter sliould attempt to interfere 
with our operations. He had learnt further that 
Novikoff did not wish any one to accompany the 
expedition who did not belong to the division, so 
that if I wanted to go I ought to speak to the 
captain in good time. 

At first Modest Petrovitch seemed inexorable, 
and answered by repeatedly advising me to look 
on from the bank — it was only about three versts ; 
but at last he gave in, and we began our prepara- 
tions for the campaign against the Turks. We 
cooked several chickens, took a bottle of sherry 
(the case of which everybody knew had already 
been taken away), and provided ourselves with 
bread and other supplies for nearly a week ; and 
besides drawing-paper I took my little paint-box, 
wliich, liowever, was not destined to be used. 

The evening before our expedition I received 
through Skobeleif the following telegram from head- 
quarters ; ' The artist Verestchagin is to join the 
rifle brigade immediately. — Skalon.' At first I was 
puzzled, but when I got to Giurgevo I understood 
how it was. Some time before I had begged Skalon, 
the commander-in-chief's secretary, to give me an 
opportunity of witnessing the passage of the river, 



and to attach me temporarily for this purpose to 
the most advanced troops. The rifle brigade had 
now moved out of Simnitza, so that the passage was 
to be made somewhere in that direction. As the 
troops marched only at night (remaining quiet 
during the day in order not to arouse the Turks), 
not less than forty-eight hours would be required 
for the march ; I therefore hoped to arrive with the 
blue-jackets in good time for the laying of the 
torpedoes, and then to overtake General Tsvetsinski 
with his brigade. 

I went into the little house where my things 
were, in order to select what was absolutely neces- 
sary. While thus engaged I did not feel quite 
comfortable ; I reflected that the Turks would not 
watch Skrydlofi* blowing them up quite so quietly 
as I intended to watch the explosion, and that our 
torpedoes in all probability would hurl us into the 
air first. I gave up my lodgings, saw to my horses 
(among them a new white ambling nag, which cost 
five-and-twenty gold pieces), called on a few officers, 
and then went that very night to Mali-Dijos. 

My younger brother, who had joined the service 
again in the Vladicaucasian regiment, arrived that 
day and came to me. I took him to his superior 
officers, and then went, with my knapsack, to the 



After dinner the senior officer of the naval 
detachment gave out brandy to the crews in the 
courtyard of the house where the mess was held, 
and did it so solemnly and methodically that our 
departure was considerably delayed. It was already 
nearly dark when we assembled on the shore of the 
little bay where the torpedo-boats lay, just getting 
up their steam. 

Quite unexpectedly, young SkobelefF appeared, 
took NovikofF aside, and began to talk to him with 
great eagerness. He expressed his wish to be useful 
to the detachment, and proposed that he should 
accompany the expedition ; but XovikofF gave him 
a decided refusal. 

The chaplain of the Minsk regiment, a very 
advanced young man, offered a prayer for the 
journey. As I knelt I looked with curiosity at 
the interesting scene before me. On the right, the 
setting sun was sending out his last rays, and the 
smoking torpedo-boats stood out like dark shadows 
against the crimson sky and water ; on the bank 
were the sailors in a semicircle, the officers in their 
midst, all on their knees, all praying fervently. 
All around was silence : the voice of the praying 
chaplain alone was audible. 

I could not at the time make any sketch of the 
torpedo-boats, which has prevented me from re- 


producing on canvas this scene, which impressed 
itself deeply on my memory. 

When the prayer was over, those who were 

going embraced those who remained behind. 
Among the latter was Podiapolski, our friend luid 
chum. When, on leaving, I embraced Skobelell, he 


t64 verestchagin 

whispered, ' Happy fellow, to be able to go with 
them ! How I envy you ! ' 

Skrydloff did not hasten to get np steam, and we 
had to make use of the oars. When I reproached 
him for this, he said reassuringly : ' You may be 
certain that w€ shall overtake everybody, and reach 
the Danube sooner than the others, who do not know 
the channel and will get aground.' And so it was. 
The darkness was so great that the buoys were not 
visible, and could not be seen even by the pilot on 
the first sloop. As soon as our engines began to 
work and we moved quickly we saw to right and 
left dark motionless masses. We hailed them, and 
they answered us ; they were torpedo-boats which 
were aground. Our ' Shutka ' set several of them 
afloat ; but they must have run ashore again later, 
for the progress made was slow. 

According to our plan we were to reach the 
Danube before dawn and at once lay torpedoes ; but 
it fell out differently : daylight came and no boat 
had yet reached the channel. We found the spot 
where we had fixed the posts. Just as SkrydJoiT 
■had foretold, we were nearly the first in the 
channel of the Danube : no one was before us 
except Ch. with the second torpedo-boat, which, as 


it excelled the others in lightness and speed, was 
the one fixed upon to carry out the attack. In 
speed our ' Shutka ' took the second place. 

We stayed for a long time in one place in order 
that the others might come up with us, and then 
steamed along a little island, the thick trees of 
which concealed us from the sight of the Turks. 
To approach secretly and lay a torpedo by the 
Turkish bank, as had been planned, was evidently 
out of the question ; besides, all the torpedo-boats, 
except ours and perhaps two others, smoked and 
snorted terribly, so that our squadron would have 
been betrayed by that alone. 

We had scarcely come out from behind the 
first island when smoke rose near the sentry-box 
on the opposite bank. A shot fell ; then a second, a 
third, and more and more the farther we went. 
The bank was not far off, and we could see clearly 
the soldiers running hither and thither in confu- 
sion. Fresh riflemen soon came up, especially 
Tcherkesses, who rained upon us a regular shower 
of bullets. 

Novikoff overtook us. He stood at the helm, 
resting his elbows on the iron roof of the torpedo- 
boat, and paying no attention to the bullets, for 
which his stout figure, wrapped in a mantle, pre- 
sented a good mark. 


The quantity of shot that fell made it rather 
hot for us ; the bank was literally covered with 
riflemen, whose bullets made a noise like the 
continuous rolling of drums. The torpedo-boats 
moved on heavily and silently ; the first had 
already begun their work by the bank when the 
last were just entering the river. The sun had 
long since risen ; it was a bright summer morning, 
with a gentle breeze ruffling the water. Under a 
persistent fire the torpedoes had been laid ; but the 
blue-jackets committed the great mistake of not 
going at once straight to the right or Turkish bank, 
but beginning from the left bank. The first torpe- 
does were laid quite correctly ; towards the mid- 
dle, too, Midshipman Niloff laid his torpedoes, but, 
being hurried, he did not lay them quite properly, 
and so they came to the surface again. Further 
than this, none of the officers ventured to go, and 
half of the channel therefore remained passable. 
This mistake was rectified by Podiapolski in the 
night. Nevertheless the Turks might easily have 
broken through, and the fact that they did not 
attempt to do so can only be attributed to the fear 
with which they had been inspired by the previous 
blowing up of their vessels by Eussian torpedoes. 


Our two torpedo-boats in the meantime kept 
concealed behind the bushes of a small island which 
lies a little below the spot where our operations 
were being carried on. We certainly heard a noise 
in the brushwood on the island, but paid no atten- 
tion to it. Suddenly two boats appeared and 
made rapidly towards us. We were just preparing 
to receive them with the little hand-torpedoes which 
Skrydloff had got ready in the event of a hand-to- 
hand fight, when the supposed enemies disclosed 
themselves as Cossacks, who had reached the island 
before us to cover our operations. Their presence 
was due to SkobelefF, and, to say the truth, was not 
of the slightest use. 

From the direction of Eustchuk a Turkish 
steamer began firing on our flotilla, but without 
doing any damage at all. ' Nikolai Larionovitch ,' 
said I to Skrydloff, ' why do you not attack her ? ' 
' Why touch her, when she does not come close 
and her firing does no harm ? ' The steamer soon 
steamed away, probably to fetch assistance. Then 
Novikoffs torpedo-boat hastened up to us. ' Nikolai 
Larionovitch, why do you not attack tliat iron- 
clad ? ' ' That is not an ironclad, but a steamer ; I 
tliought you only ordered an attack in the event 
of her coming near.' ' I ordered you to attack in any 
case. Have the goodness to do it.' ' Very good, sir.' 


NovikofF went back again to the works. ' Now, my 
good fellow,' I said to SkrydlofF, ' you will see, if the 
torpedoes are badly laid, you will be the scapegoat ; 
any failure will be set down to you.' ' Now I shall 
attack ; my orders are now plain and clear.' 

SkrydlofF gave orders that all should be made 
ready. He took up his position in the bows, where 
he could keep his eye on the helm and the bow 
torpedo. To me he entrusted the floating stern 
torpedo, in the handling of which he had already 
instructed me, and told me when I was to throw it, 
and when to give the word ' Fire ! ' 

To freshen up his men a little, he ordered them 
to wash. ' Won't you wash ? ' he asked of me. 
' Done it already.' ' But you have no soap.' 

There was nothing for it : I was obliged to wash 
again with soap. 

We all put on cork belts, in case the ' Shutka ' 
should blow up and we should fall into the water, 
which, indeed, would be the most likely consequence 
of the explosion. We ate a little chicken, took a 
sip of sherry, and then my friend lay down to take 
a nap, and, by Heaven ! his iron nerves suffered him 
actually to fall asleep ! 

I did not sleep : I stood at the stern leading on 
to the iron roof which covers the engines, and looked 
up stream toward Eustchuk. ' She is coming ! ' 


called out one of the sailors in a low voice. And, 
true enough, between the bank and the tall trees 
of the little island which concealed the channel 
of the Danube, smoke was rising and rapidly ap- 

' Nikolai Larionovitch, get up : she is coming.' 
Skrydloff started up : ' Push off! Go ahead ! Full 
speed ! ' We flew rapidly along. The Turkish 
vessel was not yet visible. ' Nikolai Larionovitch,' 
I called out to him again, ' a little slower, so that 
we may meet her nearer here ; otherwise we shall 
run on to the Turkish bank ! ' ' None of that, old 
fellow. You heard my instructions. I should go 
now even to Eustchuk! ' ' Well, go ahead 1 ' 

The steamer came on ; compared with the 
' Shutka ' she seemed to be enormously large. 

Skrydloff steered straight at her, and with the 
speed of a locomotive we rushed upon her. 

What confusion there was ! — not only onboard 
the ship, but also on the bank. They, no doubt, 
guessed that the little nutshell was carrying de- 
struction to the steamer. 

The riflemen and Tcherkesses on the bank 
rushed headlong into the water, in order to fire 
from as short a distance as possible. The bullets 
rained down upon us ; the whole bank was wrapped 
in thick smoke. On the deck of the steamer the 


crew were running about in great consternation. 
We saw the officers rush to the hehn and turn the 
ship to the bank ; and at the same time they gave 
us with their heavy guns such a salvo as made the 
poor ' Shutka ' stagger in her course. 

' Now you are in for it,' I thought to myself, 
' and you won't get out alive,' I took off ray boots, 
and advised Skrydloff to do the same. The sailors 
followed our example. 

I then looked round. Not one of the torpedo- 
boats was following us. It was supposed that 
something had happened to their engines. 

Whatever was the cause, the ' Shutka ' was 
alone, absolutely alone, and the squadron far be- 
hind. The fire became unbearable. Our vessel 
trembled under the rain of rifle-bullets ; the cannon- 
shot shook her so that she seemed to be going to 
pieces. There were already several holes in her 
sides, and one at the stern, near the spot where I 
stood, was almost on the water-line ; the iron roof 
that protected the engines had also been pierced. 
The sailors hid themselves at the bottom of the 
sloop, and covered themselves with whatever they 
could lay hands on ; so that nothing was to be seen 
of them, except part of the face of one gunner, who 
was holding a buoy in front of him for protection, 
but was otherwise as motionless as a statue. Now 


we were quite close to the steamer. The crashing 
and screaming made by the bullets and . shells as, 
they poured into the ' Shutka ' became worse and 

Suddenly I saw Skrydloff, who was sitting at 
the helm, draw himself together, — he had been 
hit by a bullet, and was almost immediately hit, 

Our engineer, looking very pale, had taken off 
his cap and was praying ; but at this moment he 
took courage, and, drawing out his watch, called 
to Skrydloff as we were on the point of delivering 
our blow, ' Nikolai Larionovitch, five minutes past 

In spite of the danger, I observed with curiosity 
the Turks on the steamer as we came close up to 
her. They stood there as if turned to stone, their 
hands raised and stretched out, and their heads 
bent down towards us. 

At the last moment our steersman got nervous; 
he steered to the right, and the current carried us 
away from the steamer. Skrydloff turned sharply 
upon him : ' To the left, or you are a dead man,' 
and seized the helm himself. The ' Shutka. * turned, 
came slowly alongside the hull of the steamer, and 
touched her with her torpedo-spar. At this mo- 
ment there was the deepest silence among us as 


well as the enemy ; still as death, we awaited the 

'Has she gone off?' asked the gunner, who 
was crouching at the bottom of the boat. 

' Not yet,' I answered in a whisper. 

'Fire!' again cried SkrydlofF; but again no 
explosion followed. 

In the meantime the current had got hold of 
us, and our broken torpedo-spar became entangled 
in the steamer's ropes. The Turks recovered their 
presence of mind and poured a worse fire than 
ever upon us from the bank. When the torpedo- 
spar had been cut away at Skrydloffs command, 
we at length got free. The steamer turned broad- 
side on, and raised such waves that the ' Shutka,' 
which had been badly injured, began to fill with 
water ; in addition to this misfortune, the engines 
worked slower and slower, so that we should have 
made no way at all but for the current. 

Supposing that we were going to the bottom the 
next moment, I stood up and put one foot on the 
gunwale. Then came a violent crash under me 
and a blow on my hip — such a blow as might have 
come from an axe. I fell headlong, but got up 
again directly. 


The current carried us along very near to the 
Turkish bank, whence the Turks now fired in close 
proximity. It was truly a wonder that they did 
not kill us all. They ran along behind and fired 
at us, abusing us, as we could distinctly hear, into 
the hsiVfrsdn. I tried to answer with a few shots, 


but soon gave it up, as I saw the uselessness of the 

The current carried us a considerable distance 
away. In our rear was a line of trading-vessels 
which were at anchor between the bank and the 
little island in the right arm of the river. On the 
left stretched the same island with its large many- 


branched willows ; the arm of the river at this spot 
is very narrow. The steamer did not pursue us, 
but from the fort an ironclad was making towards 
us at fall steam. ; the steamer had probably sum- 
moned her to help. 

' Nikolai Larionovitch ! ' I cried, as loud as I 
could (for the firing drowned our voices), ' Nikolai 
Larionovitch, do you see the ironclad?' * Of 
course I do.' ' What do you mean to do ? ' ' At- 
tack her with your torpedo : get it ready.' 

For us, who were half sunk and borne along by 
the current, an attack was a difficult matter ; but 
there was no other course open. The ironclad 
came up and fired twice at us. The rope which 
held the torpedo was cut through, and I told the 
gunner to be ready to launch it. Then suddenly, to 
our joy, the arm of the river came in sight at the 
end of the island on the left, and by calling upon 
our engines for a final effort we just escaped. 

Here at last we breathed freely. Large ships 
could no longer follow us, and the ironclad had to 
be content with firing a shot after us. 

As the ' Shutka ' was sinking deeper and deeper, 
Skrydloff" gave orders to wrap the hull round with 
sailcloth ; thus we might hope to get home in safety. 


Protected by the little island, we examined our 
injuries more closely. The ' Shutka' was completely 
crushed by the shots, and seemed as if she would 
be of no further use ; she was pierced not only 
above but also below the water-line : we threw 
overboard several handfuls of the enemy's buUets. 
Skrydloff had two wounds in his legs and a bruised 
hand ; I had been wounded in the fleshy part of 
the thigh. When I got on my feet after the blow, 
although I was able to stand upright, yet I felt a 
discomfort in my right leg, and I began to feel the 
part. My trousers were pierced in two places, and 
my finger went right into the flesh. Oh ! am I 
really wounded ? Such was the fact : my whole 
hand was bloody. And so this is being wounded ! 
how simple it is! — I had always thought it was 
much more complicated. The bullet or grapeshot 
struck the bottom of the sloop, and as it rebounded 
pierced the muscle of the hip close to the bone. 
If the latter had been hit, death would have been 

Not one of the sailors was wounded. Curiously 
enough, it now came out that the terrible fire 
had cut the conducting wire and had thereby 
prevented the explosion of the torpedo.. 'The 
conducting wires are broken, sir,* reported the 
gunner to Skrydloff. 'Impossible.' 'It is so: 


will you kindly look yourself.' SkrydlofF was not 
a little pleased at this, for now the accusation of 
ignorance, want of skill, or even of carelessness, 
which his friends would certainly have brought 
against him, could not be raised. As we left the 
steamer behind us, SkrydlofF only complained that 
the breaking of the spar and the want of steam 
did not allow a repetition of the attack with the 
bow torpedo. To be sure, we were then running 
straight at the ironclad, and we could still have 
made an attack with the stern torpedo ; but this 
prospect seemed to interest him much less. My 
friend tore his hair, and cried with such a voice of 
despair that I really pitied him : ' So much work, 
trouble, and preparation, and all in vain.' ' Do stop,' 
I called to him ; ' what is the use of this despair ? 
It was a failure, but not from ignorance.' And 
when our Nikolai Larionovitch discovered that 
under the actual circumstances an explosion could 
not follow, he became more cheerful and his dis- 
tress vanished. 

The only question that remained to be decided 
was why the second torpedo-boat had not followed 
us when we made our attack. We found no 
answer. We are justified in believing that this 
was the tirst and the last occasion on which an 
enemy's ship was attacked by a single torpedo-boat. 


On the whole the result was satisfactory, for the 
steamer as well as the ironclad turned tail. And 
therefore the object of the attack had been 

I may here be allowed to say a few words 
about volunteers, who are declared by a specialist 
in Kronstadt to be only an incumbrance in battle. 
My opinion is just the reverse of this. If a 
volunteer understands discipline, and also the 
affair in hand, he will as a matter of course be not 
only brave, but (what is very important) cool also. 
When, for example, the second torpedo had to be 
got ready, the gunner was so timid that he un- 
consciously turned round and round as if he was 
looking for something. I pulled out my knife to 
cut the cord. Another gunner also seemed not to 
have all his wits about him before the attack ; for 
without any necessity he touched the conducting 
apparatus which carries the current to the torpedo 
when we were still at a considerable distance from 
the enemy. And the steersman already mentioned 
steered, in his nervousness, in a wrong direction, 
and, moreover, turned to Skrydloff and asked him 
if it were not better to pass. All these instances 
seemed to me to prove that a sailor or a soldier 




who IS forced to go forwards does not do so witli 
the same degree of composure and presence of 
mind as the volunteer who wishes to go forwards. 

After we had left our place of refuge Skrydloff 
went to Novikoff to report. All the officers were 
standing on the bank. They did not seem to 
know what had happened to us, for the island had 
hidden us from sight during the attack. 

* Did you blow them up ? ' they called out as 
we came towards them. 'No,' replied Skrydloff; 
' their fire was too heavy and cut the conducting 
wires. Yassily Yassilievitch and I are wounded.' 
General silence followed, in which disapproval 
was manifest ; only the kindly Novikoff threw 
Skrydloff a kiss and thanked him for the unequal 

Our men rested, breakfasted, and got ready to 
move on. They dragged us up the Eoumanian 
bank. A stretcher was made of oars and Skrydloff 
laid upon it ; I went on foot. During the excite- 
ment I felt neither pain nor fatigue, but by the 
time we had gone a mile I was leaning nearly my 
whole weight on the sailors who were supporting 
me. On the bank we met Skobeleff and Strukoff, 
who had watched the laying of the torpedoes from 
a distance. Skobeleff, who embraced and kissed 
us, cried, 'What brave fellows, brave fellows!' 


This bravest of the brave was evidently envious 
because he had not been wounded. They took 
us into the village of Parapan, where we were 
lodged in the house of a landowner ; it was the 
house where Wulfert lived and where I had made 
DragomirofTs acquaintance. 

Soon after, a battery of horse-artillery came at 
a gallop from Giurgevo and began unlirabering 
their guns just opposite the spot where the blue- 
jackets were resting. Strukoff gave notice to the 
flotilla in good time, and it was able to move away 
up stream to lay the other line of torpedoes. The 
battery fired upon the boats and the things which 
the sailors had imprudently left scattered about, 
and bombarded our house. On this occasion I 
made the officers who were present laugh, quite 
unintentionally. It happened thus : they proposed 
that we should migrate to a peasant's house farther 
up the village, so as to be out of range. SkrydlofF 
assented ; but I objected, because staying in a 
peasant's house presented a prospect of flea-bites ; 
and I still think my objection was not ill-founded. 

N 2 





In order to join Skobeleff's detachment I left 
Plevna. At Bogot, where our headquarters then 
were, I sent in my name to the commander-in-chief, 
Avho received me at once in the kindest manner. 
In the course of conversation I sketched for him 
the outline of the Turkish fortifications at Shan- 
dornik on the high road to Sofia, and a rough 
plan of our positions. The Grand Duke was 
rather excited, because Gourko was to come down 
from the mountains at that place on that very day. 
' Ah, if it only succeeds ! if it only succeeds ! ' 
repeated the Grand Duke Nicholas, passing his 
hand over his forehead as if he would drive away 
his apprehensions. I assured him there was no 
cause for fear : Gourko's troops would certainly 
leave the mountains without fail. ' Then au revoir 
— there,' he added, pointing with his hand in the 
direction of the Balkans. 

Owing to the lateness of the hour I could got 
nothing to eat at headquarters, and was obliged to 
appease my hunger in a sutler's tent. It was very 


late indeed when I started on the road to Loftsha, 
on my long-legged Caucasian horse. 

To my great grief, I was soon obliged to 



acknowledge to myself that the new horse I had 
recently bought was fit for nothing. It could 
neither walk, nor trot, nor gallop. ' Buying horses 
of Prince 0. is to be discontinued in future,' 


said I to myself ; for he had sold me a used-up 

At a Turkish village ^ve versts from Loftsha I 
halted for the night. As I was asking for admis- 
sion into one of the houses a soldier came running 
up to me. ' Please not to knock, sir ; we are here 
to assign quarters.' ' Then show me some quickly.' 
I was quartered somewhere at the end of the 
village, but the cottage was clean. They brought 
me a chicken, and gave my horse hay, and even 
oats, which would have been scarcely obtainable 
in a Bulgarian village. In the Bulgarian villages 
we did and took what we liked, but the Turkish 
villages were protected from this treatment by the 
military authorities. The privilege we exercised 
as friends and brothers was, as may be seen, not 
exactly advantageous to the Bulgarians. 

My stay in Loftsha did not last long. I entered 
it in the morning, and left in the evening of the 
same day. The town lies in a valley, protected 
by the steep bank of the Osma and by sur- 
rounding hills, which were so strongly fortified 
that we should scarcely have taken it but for 

The storming of Loftsha was bloody indeed ; the 
dead literally filled the trenches, my brother told 
me. Skobeleff's composure ()n that day, he said, 


Struck him as most astonishing. Among other 
incidents, my brother mentioned the following : 
' Skobeleff gave me orders to lead a battalion to a 
certain point. We marched on as long as there 
were buildings to shelter us ; but when we came to 
the open ground, advance was quite impossible. 
Whoever tried it fell down dead or wounded. 
I dismounted and halted the battalion, seeing that 
a further advance meant its annihilation. But 
just at that moment what do I see but Skobeleff 
riding calmly at a walk across the fatal space, 
with shot and shell whistling round him ! When 
I saw him I reproached myself bitterly for my 

On leaving Loftsha I fell in with the com- 
mander-in-chiefs drunken coachman. The in- 
ebriated charioteer was noisy, and quarrelled with 
everybody on the high road. When I requested 
him to leave me room to pass, he replied with 
abuse. I struck out with my whip and gave him 
a cut. This proved effectual, but the drunken 
fellow threatened me with a complaint to his 
master; to which I also urged him, in order that 
the Grand Duke might learn what a bad coachman 
he was, and get rid of him. 


I reached the town of Selvi, whither my bro- 
ther had been sent hnmediately after the passage 
of the Danube. The Bashibazouks had threatened 
to plunder and burn the town, and the terrified 
inhabitants had sent a deputation to the Grand 
Duke to beg for assistance. 

My brother, who had sent off his brigade to 
reconnoitre, happened to be at hand, and the 
Grand Duke despatched him with his half-sotnia 
of Caucasian Cossacks against the Turks. He 
easily accomplished his mission. The inhabitants 
of the town presented him in consequence with a 
very curious address of thanks, which enumerated 
his deeds. During my stay in Selvi I had an 
opportunity of discovering in the bazaar that 
his name was very popular. On making a pur- 
chase, it was sufficient to order that the goods 
should be delivered to ' Alexander ' ; the mer- 
chants at once knew who was meant ; the whole 
town, in fact, knew that Selvi's deliverer was back 

SkobelefF arrived at Selvi. I found him en- 
gaged with the divisional commanders. When I 
gave him a message from the Grand Duke, he ob- 
served, 'Eadetski will not go to the rescue; he 
says " Go if you hke ; I shall not stir." Well, we 
will go and, if necessary, die gloriously.' That 


was Skobeleff's favourite phrase. But I hoped 
that it would not come to that, for I did not so 
much want to die gloriously as to witness the pas- 
sage of the troops over the snow-covered moun- 
tains, and the decisive battle which now seemed 

The plan of crossing the Balkans by turning 
the enemy's position at the Shipka had been pro- 
jected long before by General Eadetski, or, to speak 
more correctly, by the chief of his staff, Dmitrofiski. 
The plan had been approved at headquarters, but 
the serious state of affairs at Plevna prevented its 
execution. Now Plevna had fallen, and the plan 
which had been laid aside was taken up again. 
Two columns, commanded respectively by Gene- 
rals Sviatopolk-Mirski and Skobeleff, were fitted 
out to conduct this flank movement, and Eadetski 
received corresponding orders. 

Eadetski was alarmed. ' I certainly proposed 
this plan,' so ran his answer, ' but at a time when 
there was no snow on the mountains. It is no 
longer practicable.' Dmitroffski was extremely 
perturbed : in his opinion the columns would 
inevitably be swallowed up in the banks and drifts 
of snow. The Grand Duke, however, kept to his 
purpose, and the columns were despatched under 
Skobeleff and Sviatopolk-Mirski. When Eadetski 


saw that his protests were unheeded, he washed 
his hands of the matter. ' Let them go,' he said ; 
' I shall not stir, for I have not taken leave of my 

Skobeleff and Kuropatkin (the chief of his 
staff) had no small trouble in procuring the neces- 
sary means of transport for the division. Skobe- 
leff, with that though tfulness and prudence which 
always characterized him, had long before prepared 
saddles and everything necessary for his division 
(the 16th), and had had them sent to Selvi and 
Tirnovo. But Sviatopolk-Mirski's division, pass- 
ing through these places before him, took these 
supplies in requisition without further ceremony. 
So everything had to be procured afresh. Kuro- 
patkin hastened to Tirnovo. With the support of 
the governor, Stcherbinski, he succeeded in a few 
days in procuring what was necessary. 

We soon advanced towards Gabrovo. The com- 
mander-in-chief and his staff were to take up their 
quarters in Selvi. Gabrovo was very lively : the 
whole place was in commotion. At Skobeleff's 
dinner-table new faces appeared, the divisional 
commanders of his detachment, some of them — 
for instance, a colonel of the rifles — very original 


characters. Skobeleff, among other matters, bade 
us remember that during the passage of the 
Balkans lie should not keep open table — not 
very pleasant news for us, though, for myself, I 
had a little store of preserves and necessaries for 

In the town there was ceaseless stir, noise, 
and confusion. A vast mass of people of all 
kinds rolled continuously through the streets. It is 
really wonderful that spies did not slip in among 
them, who might have betrayed to the Turks our 
preparations for turning their position. As it was, 
the Turks were taken completely by surprise ; it 
had never occurred to them that danger could 
threaten them on their flank at such a season. 

I had ridden out with X., one of Skobeleff's 
orderlies, to see some of his Bulgarian acquaint- 
ances. On our return I met the General in the 
square. 'I am looking for a horse,' he said, 
praising my ambling nag. ' Take this one.' ' No, 
thank you,' Skobeleff replied ; ' I must have a 
grey. Is there not a grey ? ' 'I have a grey,' 
said I, ' but it is small and will scarcely carry 
you.' From the dragoons he got a handsome 
white horse. Later, as I was riding to the Shipka 
to visit some old acquaintance, I met Skobeleff 
coming back from there at a gallop through deep 


snow. ' The new horse,' thought I to myself, ' will- 
not hold out long.' 

SkobelefF had seen Eadetski again, received 
orders from him, and heard again from his own 
lips that he would not stir. That same evening, 
when I paid a visit to my old Turkestan acquaint- 
ance, General DmitrofFski, at Gabrovo, I found him 
much excited. He could not accustom himself to 
the idea of a winter campaign at all, and far into 
the night he talked to me of the imprudence, not 
to say folly, of our advance. 

Skobeleff, on the other hand, was convinced 
that the undertaking would be successful. When 
we started for the village of Temenli the troops 
were already beyond that place. 

My Cossack, KurbatofT, was, of course, not 
ready at the time of departure, and I was impru- 
dent enough to leave him behind at his request till 
the following day. He was to overtake me ; but, 
to my no small vexation, several days passed by, 
and there were no signs of my Cossack. On the 
way I had to do without several things, and I was 
therefore glad when I reached Temenli. Night 
had set in. I was soon obliged to give up my 


hopes of a night's lodging, for every room in the 
village had been filled to overflowing since the 
morning. I forced my way into Skobeleff''s 
quarters, but he had already retired to rest, and 
lay in that deep sleep which he generally enjoyed 
before the commencement of an important under- 
taking. I endeavoured in vain to reconcile this 
power of sleep with Skobeleflfs highly strung 

At the quarters of the chief doctor of the 
division (with whom, if I remember right, I had 
become acquainted at one of the ambulance tents 
at Plevna) I was fortunate enough to get a glass of 
tea. I passed the night on the floor of a cottage ; 
my fellow-lodgers were unknown to me. The next 
morning my Cossack had still not arrived with my 
things. I promised myself never to leave him be- 
hind again. 

The troops were already marching up the 
mountains in long hues. In order to reach Sko- 
beleff* I had to force my way past them, which it 
was not easy to do without almost impaling oneself 
on the bayonets. For nearly four-and-twenty hours 
previously the sappers had been at work shovelling 
away the snow ; but a good deal still lay on the 
road, while on each side it was piled up in walls 
as high as a man. It was therefore impossible to 



leave the road. The soldiers laughed and joked 
as they marched. ' Eaise your bayonets ; hold 
your bayonets out of the way,' rank after rank 
called out when a horseman appeared, ' or else he 
will poke his eyes out.' One had regularly to 
practise gymnastics in the saddle in order to 
avoid the bayonets of the soldiers as they climbed 
the steep ascent, and to keep one's knees from 
knocking against their knapsacks. As it was, I 
bruised my knea finely. 

The hardest work fell to the lot of a sotnia of 
Ural Cossacks, who were marching at the head 
with guides. They had to wade through masses 
of snow, and their horses often sank altogether. 
They were commanded by Sotnik Kirilin, whom I 
had known in Turkestan. These Cossacks were 
followed by the sappers already mentioned, one 
company strong, under the command of Laskofski, 
aide-de-camp to the commander in-chief. 

A sad sight met us at one spot on the road. 
A group of musicians were resting on a mound 
of snow just off the road, huddled together, shiver- 
ing with cold. The instruments in their cases, 
some of them of huge size, lay round about in the 
snow. Poor musicians I 


We halted rather early on a high plain op- 
posite the mountains called the ' Pillars of Marcus.' 
Under some trees to the right a resting-place was 
made for Skobeleff in the snow ; our camping- 
place was close by, near the road. A small supply 
of preserves, coffee, and chocolate was produced 
from my stores and immediately consumed, as no 
one else had brought anything. We fed the horses 
too with preserved fodder, but they did not seem 
to care about it. The troops also encamped round 
about us, and their camp-fires blazed up in all 
directions ; for though the light of these fires might 
have betrayed us to the Turks, Skobeleff thought 
that human enemies were not so much to be feared 
as the frost, which was very severe. It was most 
fortunate for the detachment that there was no 
snowstorm, not even wind. It must also be men- 
tioned that Skobeleff s care extended to everything : 
all the soldiers had waist-belts, and on their feet 
bandages soaked in tallow ; moreover, each soldier 
had with him tea and cold meat. Finally, in 
order to ward off the danger of being frozen to 
death, the order had been given that the soldiers 
were not to let each other go to sleep. 

I covered myself with everything I had — a 
felt cloak, a rug, and a fur cape ; and yet I felt, 
although I lay close to the fire, that I was begin- 


ning to get numb with cold. However much I 
twisted and turned, it was of no use ; I was obhged 
to renounce the hope of sleep. I got up, lighted 
a cigar, and awaited the coming day by the fire. 

A portion of the troops resumed their march 
while it was yet dark, and we followed them at 
the first signs of dawn. I was just sketching the 
trenches which had been made in the snow on the 
side facing the Turkish position, when Skobeleff 
overtook and passed us, making his horse gallop 
even on this road. 

The astonishment of the Turks as we came out 
of the woods on the open slope of the mountain 
facing them may be imagined. They tried to fire 
a few shots at us, but could not hurt us, as we 
were not yet within the range of their guns. 

From the point we had now reached the 
positions of the Turkish troops, as well as of our 
own, were clearly visible. We saw Mount St. 
Nicholas, on which our brave soldiers were await- 
ing with impatience the result of the march by 
which we were turning the Turkish position, for it 
would bring them release from their wearisome 
sojourn in the snowy mud-huts of the Shipka Pass. 
There was the Turkish position on the ' Bald 
Mountain,' as it was called, the Turks standing in 
large groups, and probably talking of what fate 


had in store for them. They were no longer able 
to hinder our march ; in this snow an attack on 


our flank was not to be thought of; it would be 
very un-Turkish, for the Turks do not hke the 
snow. They might have prevented our descent, 
but we were already in the act of descending. 

At the top, where it began to descend, the 
road ran between two considerable heights. Being 
an old soldier, I at once observed to Kuropatkin 
that both these heights ought immediately to be 
strongly occupied. ' What are you saying ? ' asked 
SkobelefF, who was at that moment riding just in 
front of us. 'I said that these heights which com- 
mand the descent ought in any case to be occupied.' 
' Yes, yes. Alexi Nicholaiewitch,' turning to Kuro- 
patkin, ' that is right ; have the heights occupied 
at once, and let the men entrench themselves.' 
' Very well, sir,' replied the colonel, not altogether 
pleased ; for military men do not like listening to 
the advice of a civilian — although I perhaps had 
a better claim to call myself a soldier than most 
of the ofiicers of the detachment. Skobeleff, how- 
ever, was above that sort of thing, and was always 
ready to follow sensible advice, from whomsoever 
it might come. 

Colonel Kuropatkin is undoubtedly one of the 
best officers in the army : small, and with not a 
particularly good figure, but clever and cool-headed. 
In many traits of his character he was exactly the 


opposite of SkobelefF, who esteemed him very 
highly, although he constantly found himself at 
variance with him. In such discussions the chief 
of the staff, with his cool and calculating spirit, 
was generally more in the right than the fiery 
general who was so easily carried away ; but this 
was only the case in details and subordinate 
matters, for Skobeleffs view of large questions 
was certainly keener. For instance, with regard 
to the possibihty of a winter march over the 
Balkans — a question on whose decision the whole 
issue of the war largely depended — Kurapotkin 
was of the opinion of Eadetski and Dmitroski ; i.e. 
he was entirely against this expedition, and called 
it a mad, ruinous proceeding, &c. Skobeleff, on 
the other hand, was in favour of the expedition, 
and was firmly convinced that it would have a suc- 
cessful termination. ' And if we do not get across 
we shall die gloriously,' he would say, repeating his 
favourite expression. 

' He has only one idea : let us die, let us die ! * 
Kuropatkin once said to me as early as Plevna. 
* There is no difficulty in dying ; only one must^be 
sure that it is worth while to die ! ' 

News soon came from the advanced guard of 
sappers that the Turks were moving towards us. 
I saw the colour come in Skobelefi's clieeks. He 



turned immediately to the soldiers with the words, 
' I congratulate you, brothers ; the Turks are 
coming ! ' The soldiers answered as usual — ' We 
will do our best, Excellency ! ' DukmassofF, one of 
the orderlies, was sent to the assistance of the 
sappers with two companies. 

The descent was almost more difficult than the 
ascent ; in some places the horses sank up to their 
necks in the snow ; and most grateful I was to my 
brave steed for the desperate efforts with which he 
carried me out of the holes without even stumbling ! 
In many places, however, it was absolutely impos- 
sible to ride ; one had to slide down. The soldiers 
slid down, chaffing and joking as if they were en- 
joying a holiday on the ice-slopes at home. I am 
no longer able to say how I came down a certain 
steep place with my horse ; we probably both sHd 
down on our haunches. To have made a good 
road would, of course, have required much time ; 
on the other hand, it was beyond measure diffi- 
cult (there is no such thing in the world as an 
impossibility) to get the cavalry down, and still 
more the artillery. 

We were already on the southern slope of the 
Balkans. Skobeleff had remained on one of the 
furthermost heights, and surveyed for a long time 
the valley of the Tunja and the Turkish posi- 


tions which stretched out before us. On the left 
lay Mount St. Nicholas with the Shipka. The 
positions of our troops were sharply defined in 
black lines. There, on the rock of Mount St. 
Nicholas, is Mesherski's battery ; there I sketched 
the guns and the country round, bending my head 
first to one side and then to the other, in order to 
avoid the bullets, shells, and bombs which came 
whistling from the Turkish batteries behind the 
mountains. (On the Shipka the bombs were 
christened ' crows.') There stood the ruins of a 
Turkish block-house, from the window of which I 
wanted to make a sketch of the Tunja Valley ; 
but I was simply driven out by three shells. The 
first buried itself in the wall; the second fiew on to 
the roof and covered me with sand and all kinds 
of things, although I was sitting on the other side 
of the house ; the third monster struck and pierced 
the roof close to me with an outrageous noise, and 
threw such a mass of earth and rubbish upon me 
that I went away without finishing my picture ; 
the colours on my palette had received such a 
strong admixture of foreign particles that I was 
obliged to throw them away. A little farther there 
rose from the liill tlie round central battery, and in 
between were the mud-huts of Minski's regiment, 
witl) wliom I had spent some days as the guest of 


my friend N. Beyond was a succession of well- 
known spots : on that side of the hill, the Turkish 
' Nine Scale ' battery ; further on, the ' Crow's-nest ' 
and ' Sugarloaf ' batteries. Below the Russian posi- 
tions came the Turkish mud-huts and batteries 
again. Right down in the valley, from the ruins 
of the village of Shipka to the village of Shenovo, 
stretched fortified hills, which formed the centre 
of the Turkish position. To the right was a thick 
oak wood belonging to the village of Shenovo, 
which seemed also to be strongly fortified. Still 
more to the right, i.e. just in front of our path, 
stretched the chain of the Little Balkans. Across 
the valley, to the right, lay the village of Imetli, 
after which the pass is sometimes named. Finally, 
quite to the right, the Tunja Valley stretched 
away. SkobelefF sometimes gazed earnestly in that 
direction, for from that quarter it was rumoured 
that Turkish troops were coming to the relief of 
the Shipka. 

The troops halted in the ravine, but SkobelefF 
as usual went on in front to reconnoitre the way. 
He wanted to go on horseback, but the Turks 
opened such a hot fire from a short distance that 
we were all obliged to dismount. With him were 


Kuropatkin (the chief of liis staff), Count Keller, 
myself, and a few Cossacks. The Turks had 
established themselves on the rocks nearest the 
road, and poured upon us a regular shower of 
bullets. Our men tried to dislodge them, but our 
wretched Krenke rifles would not carry so far. 
I halted in order to make a sketch of the scene. 
Skobeleff had gone on a little in front, when sud- 
denly I saw Kuropatkin coming back towards me 
pale as death, and supported by a soldier on each 
side. He stopped to take breath behind the same 
jutting rock under cover of which I was drawing. 
A ball had struck him in the left shoulder, and, 
after grazing the bone, had passed out through 
the back. The poor fellow had quite collapsed, 
and begged that we would examine his wound 
and tell him whetlier it was fatal or not. Skobe- 
leff also now rejoined us, and we all began to 
make our way back, Kuropatkin, of course, being 

I have often been under heavy fire, but never 
before had I experienced such a murderous rain 
of bullets. Even the lire at the torpedo attack on 
the Danube, when our boat was fired upon by tlie 
Turks and Tcherkesses and by the Turkish ships, 
does not seem to me to have been so heavy. The 
Turks fired upon us at close range, and one bullet 



chased another, whistling past our ears, striking 
the rocks there, here falling or rebounding at our 
feet. My horse and Skobeleffs were uninjured, but 
my Bulgarian's horse was killed, and over a hun- 
dred men and horses fell besides. I walked on 
Skobeleff's left hand, and I confess that tlie clatter 
of the firearms (which sounded something like the 
rolling of drums) and the whistling of the bullets 
made one rather anxious. One could not help 
thinking, ' You will be knocked down directly, 
and then you will learn what you wanted to 
learn — the meaning of war.' I remember, how- 
ever, that in spite of this I could not refrain from 
watching SkobelelF. I wanted to see whether he 
would not involuntarily bend his head, affected 
by the whistling bullets ; but no, he does not 
bend — not in the least. Is there no involuntary 
movement perceptible in the muscles of the face 
or of the hands ? No : his face is quiet, and his 
hands buried, as usual, in the pockets of his over- 
coat. Is there not a certain unrest in his eyes, 
which I should have noticed even if he had 
wished to hide it ? No — at least it seems not ; a 
certain passionless look points at most to a deep- 
buried inward excitement. I still see him before 
me, striding along with his customary careless 
walk, his head bent a little on one side. ' The 


devil take it ! ' I thought ; ' he seems to go slower 
and slower : does he do it on purpose ? ' There 
was really a helUsh din : men and horses falling 
on all sides. Kuropatkin, the brave Kuropatkin, 
calls out from the rear ; ' Let those who are sound 
run ; we shall all be annihilated.' Count Keller 
and one or two others rushed ahead ; I, who 
had been in many a rain of bullets before, stayed 
with Skobeleff. ' Well, Yassily Vassilievitch,' said 
SkobelefT to me presently, when a turn in the 
road at last gave us shelter from tlie Turkish 
bullets, ' now we know what running the gauntlet 

I was interested in learning what SkobelefTs 
feelings were in face of great danger, and I asked 
him afterwards : ' Tell me honestly : have you 
really so accustomed yourself to war that you no 
longer fear danger? I confess that I am always 
inwardly a little alarmed when a shell falls near 
me, or a bullet whistles past the tip of my nose.' 
'Nonsense ! ' he rejoined ; ' they think that I am 
brave and that I am afraid of nothing ; but I 
confess that 1 am a coward. Whenever I go into 
action I say to myself that this time there will 
be an end of me. When a bullet grazed me on 
the Green Mountains and I fell, my first thought 
was : " Now, brother, thy play is ended," ' It 


pleased me to hear such a confession, for after 
it my own character seemed less timid. Not that 
I ever set a particularly high value on courage, 
but I had an extreme aversion to cowardice — a 
quality which I had occasions of observing. As I 
felt very uncomfortable, and was generally afraid, 
each time that I came under heavy fire, that a ball 
would lay me low at once, I was glad that Sko- 
belefF also by no means faced death with indiffer- 
ence, but understood how to conceal his feelings. 
' I have made it a rule,' he said, ' never to bend 
down under fire. If you once permit yourself to 
do that, you will be drawn on farther than you 

I am now of opinion that no man ever is quite 
calm at heart under fire. 

Kuropatkin was bandaged, and then carried 
back on a litter, over the Balkans, to the hospital 
at Gabrovo. He said to us : ' Listen to my last 
advice : make haste and drive these Turks from 
their position, at any cost, or they will make 
terrible havoc among our troops.' 

Skobeleff gave orders to storm the position ; but 
Colonel Paniutin, to whom the orders were given, 
begged leave to try first to dislodge the enemy by 
a fusilade. He had a battalion armed with Pea- 
body rifles, which had been taken from the Turks 


at Plevna. Two companies with these weapons 
poured a perfect shower of bullets on the Turks, 
and after a few minutes not a man of the enemy- 
was to be seen — not a shot more was fired by him. 
I have never seen a more striking proof of what 
good arms can do. It was not without reason 
that at Plevna our soldiers, driven to despair by 
the behaviour of their clumsy converted muskets, 
whose locks vrould not work, seized them by the 
bayonets and dashed them to pieces against stones 
or trees, exclaiming : ' If you are of no use, you 
shall not exist.' 

Paniutin with his Peabodies had undoubtedly 
saved the lives of many soldiers ; for an assault on 
the Turks, who were firmly ensconced behind 
jutting rocks, could not have taken place without 
heavy loss. How many human lives would have 
been saved on our side altogether if we had had 
good rifles at the beginning of the w^ar, or if, 
even later, our troops had been armed with the 
rifles taken at Plevna ! There were some tens of 
thousands of them, with millions of cartridges ! 
This measure had actually been talked of, but, as I 
heard, we were ashamed to do it ! One can only 
wonder how anybody can have been ashamed to 
admit what the whole army knew, and talked of 
loudly, namely, that our converted rifles, compared 


to the Turkish weapons, were good for nothing. 
In the same way our troops crossed the Balkans 
with nothing but Krenke rifles in their hands, 
while tens of thousands of Peabodies lay in piles in 
the snow all the time that I was at Plevna (nearly 
a fortnight), with boxes full of cartridges. Vast 
numbers of the latter were strewn on the road and 
beside it to a distance of several miles, and, as 
nobody thought of collecting them, they exploded 
in quantities as the baggage-wagons passed over 

At the halting-place in the ravine we parted 
from Kuropatkin. The poor fellow, as I have 
said, was conveyed over the same terrible roads 
back to Gabrovo. It seemed as if a tear glistened 
in Skobeleffs eye, but he pulled himself together 
quickly — ' Colonel Count Keller, you will under- 
take the post of chief of the staff .^ ' ' Very good, 
Excellency.' ' There is promotion at once,' said 
Kuropatkin dryly, as he was carried away. His 
loss was deeply felt by us all. To SkobelefF it was, 
as he said, irreparable. 

It is strange how a wound will often change a 
man suddenly and completely, sometimes without 
its being noticed by himself or by others. Kuro- 
patkin is carried in a litter over these impracticable 
roads through the pass ; he is, of course, constantly 


shaken — thrown first to one side, and then to the 
other ; sometimes even he is dropped right into the 
snow, so that his strong nerves can scarcely endure 
it. He meets the cavalry on their march, and in 
conversation with their colonel he says, among 
other things, ' It is a devilish road ; I do not 
know how you will get across.' The colonel of 
the regiment, impressed by these words, forgets 
that he is not speaking to the chief of the staff l)ut 
to a wounded man ; he halts his regiment and 
sends Skobeleff a report of the insurmountable 
difficulties of the road. But Skobeleff gets angry, 
and is beside himself at the long delay of the 
cavalry. He naturally at once gives orders that 
the march is to be continued at any price. 

If a wounded soldier brought from the battle- 
field is asked how matters stand there he gene- 
rally answers : ' Badly, sir. We are getting the 
worst of it ; they are giving us a beating ; they are 
too many for us.' He is worsted, he is beaten, and 
it seems to him that everything is lost. It appears 
to me that it ought to be a rule that no wounded 
man, from the private to the commander-in-chief, 
should be allowed to remain at the front, extreme 
cases, of course, excepted. 


Skobeleff seemed, as it were, thrown off his 
balance by Knropatkin's wound. Taking me 
aside, he constantly asked : ' What do you think 
of my arrangements, Y. V. ? Is it all right ? 
Count Keller is a good officer, but inexperienced. 
I am afraid that there may be some confusion.' I 
tried to calm him by saying that it seemed to me 
that at present everything was going on as it 
ought. ' Have you occupied the heights which 
command the pass ? ' ' Yes, the men have 
marched off already.' ' Have you given them 
orders to entrench themselves ? ' ' Yes.' ' Be sure 
that they carry out the order.' It still makes me 
laugh when I think how the brave orderly, X., who 
was despatched with this order, on seeing soldiers 
on the heights, took them for Turks. 

But Skobeleff with his nervous nature could 
not be easy. ' You have been with Gourko, 
Vassily Yassilievitch : tell me, on your honour, 
w^as there greater order under him than under 
me ? ' ' N'o, I should not think so ; but he was 
calmer.' ' Am I, then, so very impatient.^ ' ' Oh, 
just a little ; see how you have sent several 
orderlies to one and the same place with the same 

I remember another scene at Plevna. Just 
after I had returned from the guards' quarters, in 



friendly conversation with an officer, I was de- 
fending Gourko against various unjust attacks. 
SkobelefT was present at this conversation. Very 
jealous of Gourko's independent position, for the 
latter had nearly a whole army under him, he 
cavilled at my impartiality, and growled sar- 
castically, ' Well, now you have found a great 

Not long after, Laskofski, the commander-in- 
chief's aide-de-camp, was shghtly wounded. 

The oeneral had ordered Colonel Paniutin to 
drive the Turks out of the trenches which they 
held below the road which led from the pass ; in 
the evening General StoletofF took the village of 
Imetli. We passed the night in our ravine round 
a fire which we were scarcely able to keep up 
with the damp twigs. Here were SkobelefT, Stole- 
toff, Laskofski, myself, and Skobeleff's aides -de- 
camp ; I do not remember whether Count Keller, 
who had a great deal to do that night, was 
present or not. 

Our gallant correspondent, M. D., was not 
there ; he was probably down in Imetli. I do not 
know whether SkobelefT slept — perhaps he was 
able to sleep even here ; but as for myself, thougli 
fatigue overpowered me from time to time, I never 
really got to sleep. We did not eat anything, but 


only drank a glass of tea each. Laskofski with 
his wound was particularly badly off, for although 
he was wrapped in a fur cape he lay on the snow 
without any blanket. In the morning he got up 
,with us to view the Turkish positions ; but I 
obliged him, by main force, to go to Gabrovo to 
the hospital tent. 

The morning was wonderfully beautiful ; the 
little Turkish detachment at first stood at the foot 
of the hill, as if it would prevent our descent ; 
but presently it retired — the enemy, it seems, was 
by no means distinguished for decision. Now the 
Turkish cannon were pointed at us, and opened 
fire. We could not reply, for we had no guns with 
us. Skobeleff was informed that it was impossible 
to bring up our artillery over these roads. I 
advised him to order that one piece at least should 
be brought down at any cost ; the others might 
be left on the top. In the meantime an attempt 
was made to answer with our little mountain- 
guns ; and though their fire apparently did little 
execution, it doubtless produced a moral effect, by 
reminding the enemy of their presence in our de- 

Skobeleff begged me to make a sketch of the 
scene, that he might add it to his report. As a 
good deal was hidden from me at the spot where 


we Stood, I went down a little way ; but the bullets 
whistled round me in such great numbers that I 
made my sketch in a great hurry, merely dashing 
in the outlines. The Turkish detachment was 
again drawn up down below. I should have liked 
to draw several things, but I suddenly found that 
I had not got my note-book with me — a book 
which was full of notes and sketches from the 
time of Plevna and Gorny-Dubnia down to the 
last few days. Pondering in my mind where I 
could have lost it, it occurred to me that the 
last time I had had it in my hands was when I 
saw Kuropatkin after he had been wounded : his 
wound had so upset me that I had left the book 
lying in the snow. I rushed to the spot, but found 
nothing ; which was scarcely to be wondered at, 
as a great number of infantry and cavalry had 
passed over the place. Now I saw what a number 
of men and horses had fallen at this spot yester- 
day, chiefly during SkobelefT's memorable reconnais- 
sance. One soldier had been knocked off the road, 
and the shell-sphnter had gone through his body and 
chest. My note-book, however, was not to be seen 
anywhere. ' It is probably crying, with all its 
notes,' was the idea that passed through my mind. 

At this moment I met an aide-de-camp of the 
Vladimir Regiment whom I knew. ' Do you know/ 



he said, ' that they have found a note-book be- 
longing to your late brother? The Turks must 
have taken it from the body and brought it here 
to Imetli.' ' It is most likely my note-book, for 
which I am looking,' I cried. 'In whose hands 
did you see it ? ' He named an officer of the Don- 
Cossack Eegiment. I rode off at once to find him 
out. The regiment had already descended in its 
full strength, and was being drawn up by Skobeleff. 
At last I regained possession of my precious book. 
It turned out that a soldier had picked it up on 
the spot where I had dropped it, and had taken it 
with him to Imetli, but had dropped it again by 
a well in the village ; there it had been found by a 
Cossack, from whom it passed into the hands of 
the officer. 

I returned to the place of our bivouac. It was 
very hot, and the snow was thawing. The sol- 
diers stopped to drink tea ; I sat down by one of 
them, who kindly offered me some — not indeed 
out of a cup, but out of the lid of his cooking- 
pot. I learnt from talking with him and others 
that the soldiers were very badly treated in the 
matter of tea, and still more of sugar ; they did, 
indeed, receive for a certain number of days the 


regulation number of pieces of sugar ; but these 
pieces were so microscopically small, that they 
could just be seen and nothing more. Before this, 
when I was with Gourko's Guards, I had been 
astonished at the lavishness with which the com- 
manders of the different divisions and the hospital 
authorities supphed this or that general, or officers' 
mess, with whole poods and loaves of sugar — often 
as many as three and four loaves. I had intended 
to tell Skobeleff about it, and to ask him to turn 
his attention to the matter ; but, to my great vexa- 
tion, I had quite forgotten to do so. On the whole, 
under Skobeleff, everything which concerned the 
care of the troops was arranged, comparatively 
speaking, in the best possible manner. He had 
spoken strongly to some of those who had the chief 
authority in these matters, and they on their part 
had dismissed some of their subordinates for fail- 
ing to make proper provision ; and if I had not 
forgotten at that time to tell him about it, the 
soldiers would probably have received more sugar 
for the rest of the campaign. 

I found Skobeleff in conversation with Prince 
v., commanding one of the divisions of the Bul- 
garian militia ; he brought the news that even to 
bring one field-piece over that road was impos- 
sible ; lie said, furtlier, that the advanced guard 



of Prince Mirski's detachment had come down 
into the valley from the other side of Shenovo, 
and that it could be seen from the pass. We 
could see in the distance, on the white expanse of 
snow, little black lines— regiments which were 
moving towards Shenovo, i.e. marching against the 
Turks ; the booming of the guns could also be 

SkobelefF inquired of Prince Y. wdiat troops he 
had met on the way. Two regiments of the in- 
fantry division had already come down ; the third 
regiment was in the act of descending ; the wdiole 
of the cavalry, with the exception of one Cossack 
regiment, was still on the way. 

' What do you think, Vassily Yassilievitch ? ' 
asked SkobelefF of me ; ' will they soon reach 
Shenovo ? ' ' Within two hours, or two hours and 
a half, if the Turks let them.' 'Then ride to 
Paniutin and tell him to advance to the trenches.' 
I galloped off so quickly that my poor nag must 
have thought I had gone mad to ride at such 
speed on such roads. While still a long way 
above I shouted down, ' Colonel Paniutin, advance ! ' 
He was delighted at the order, took off his cap, 
crossed himself, and exclaimed, ' Thank Gcd ! ' and 
went forward so rapidly that by the time I reached 
him by the very winding road he had already 


passed the trenches. ' The general gave orders 
only to advance as far as the trenches at present/ 
I called out to him. 

' We have already passed them.' 

Suddenly Skobeleff came riding up to me at 
full gallop. ' Vassily Yassilievitch, you have told 
the troops to advance ? ' 

' Yes : shall I call them back ? ' 

' No, no ; I was just going to push them further 
forward. Go on ; I will give you the signal to halt 

A terrible load of anxiety was taken off my 
mind. The shots from the direction of Mirski's 
detachment followed each other more and more 
quickly ; the hurrahs of our men could be heard 
in the distance, mingled with the Turkish cries 
of Allah ! The battle had evidently begun, and we 
had to hasten to give assistance. 

Skobeleff was enraged that so few troops had 
yet come down. In spite of his despatching one 
orderly after another to bid them hasten, the cav- 
alry came down very slowly, and barred the way 
to part of the infantry. The nature of the road, 
however, made it impossible to blame them. 

As part of the detachment must be kept in 
reserve, Skobeleff had as yet but a ridiculously 
small force (in fact, no more than one regiment of 


infantry) available for an attack. Anxious, there- 
fore, as he was to render help, he was obliged to 
wait. In order, however, to divert the enemy by 
a demonstration, he put his men in position, and 
pushed forward the mountain artillery, whose fire 
fell just short of the mark. The back wheels were 
sunk a little into the ground, and the shot now 
fell directly down upon the enemy's batteries. I 
confess that I persuaded Paniutin to let our single 
regiment salute this success with two vigorous 
cheers. Three Turkish guns replied to our fire : 
the enemy w^as evidently preparing for the attack 
expected from our side, and a chain of mounted 
Tcherkesses was pushed forward along the whole 

We were now quite close to Shenovo, and thus 
naturally diverted half of the enemy's force, and 
proportionately diminished his power of resisting 
the other detachment. SkobeleiF resolved to as- 
semble all his forces before dehvering a decisive 
blow the next day. This resolut on seemed not 
to please the detachment. When Skobeleff told 
Paniutin that he would attack the Turks the next 
day, the latter answered, ' Alexander Nicholaievitch 
(Kuropatkin) is no longer here, your Excel- 
lency ; it is not likely that any good will come 
of waiting.' ' That does not sound very com- 


plimentary/ said Skobeleff. ' Have patience ; you 
will find another opportunity.' For myself, I 
was convinced that this was the most sensible 


It was already growing dark. The general had 
given orders that at nightfall the troops should 
retire ; and I advised that fires should be lighted 
along the whole line of the ground they had oc- 
cupied, in order to make the Turks uneasy by the 
apparent proximity of our advanced guard. 

The other detachment also kept perfectly quiet. 
We learnt afterwards that there had been a fierce 
engagement in the course of the day. Skobeleff 
felt that it must be so, and, as I was with him 
the whole time, I saw what it cost his nervous 
excitable nature to restrain himself on that day 
and not to rush into the fire. We were often 
alone ; he constantly drew me aside, animated 
by the desire to tell me his feelings frankly. 
' What do you think ? Was I right not to at- 
tempt an assault to- day ? I know they will blame 
me for it ; they will say that I purposely did 
not hasten to give help. Very well ; I will retire 
from the service: as soon as the war is over I 
will immediately retire.' 


' Why do you talk of retiring ? ' I said, trying 
to calm him. ' You have done what you had 
to do — what you were able to do. You have 
diverted part of the enemy's forces ; to risk an 
assault with only one regiment was not to be 
thought of.' StoletoiF came up, and concurred in 
my opinion that it would have been extremely 
rash to have attacked such a strong position with 
the force available. SkobelefF seemed to be some- 
what reassured ; but his military spirit whispered 
constantly to him that when fighting was going 
on, one ought to rush into it. He recurred several 
times to the same topic, and said ' that he could 
not, and ought not, to have acted otherwise,' and 
' that he should throw up his commission if they 
blamed him for it,' &c. I advised him to send an 
aide-de-camp at once to Eadetski to report what 
had been done, and what remained to be done 
to-morrow, and to ask for his instructions, if they 
were needed. ' But it is impossible to ride off now 
to Eadetski and to be back by the morning.' ' It 
is quite possible : send Dukmassoff — he is a gallant 
officer ; tell him that he must be back to-morrow 
early. If he accomplishes his mission, give him 
a decoration ; if he does not, put him under 

I went in quest of Dukmassoff, and told him he 


w^s to prepare at once for a ride over the moun- 
tains ; and the brave fellow, without the slightest 
sign of reluctance, went into his tent to get ready. 
In the course of twelve hours to ride twice over 
the Balkans, and, moreover, to climb up to Ea- 
detski's position, was, to say the truth, almost 
impossible ; but Dukmassoff accomplished it in 
sixteen hours. 

SkobelefT made the round of his troops, and 
ordered them to entrench themselves well, as if a 
serious attack were in prospect. 

We returned to Imetli to take up our quarters 
for the night. Bivouac-fires w^ere burning brightly 
along the whole hne of our former position in 
front of the enemy. 

The village furnished plenty of hay, but was 
badly oiT for dwelling-houses ; all the houses had 
been knocked to pieces and destroyed. Unfor- 
tunately for me, the mounted Bulgarian who 
acted as my attendant, and whose horse had been 
killed, getting tired, I suppose, of dragging my 
things after me, had either sold them or thrown 
them away. The former is the more likely, as I 
never again saw either him, or my revolver, or 
my field-glass, or my other belongings. I most 
regretted the revolver, as it was one of the few 
things that I had been able to secure out of the 


effects of my brother, who had been killed at 

After I had wandered about a little on the 
heights between the fires, in search of my Bulgarian, 
I went, tired and hungry, to Skobeleff's cottage. 
He was not there. I strolled about for a time, and 
then went again to him. Still he was not there. I 
will wait for him, at any rate,' thought I, ' for there 
is nothing to eat anywhere else.' ' He must soon 
come,' said the Cossack ; ' his supper is waiting for 

At last I hear Skobeleffs step by the fence. In 
the darkness he knocked against the Cossack, and 
being out of temper (owing, I suppose, to the 
occurrences of the day) gave him a violent blow, 
which felled him to the ground, ' Why do you 
come running between my legs, you clumsy 
brute ? What ! ' as his eyes fell on me, ' is there 
somebody else there ? Oh, it is you, Yassily Yas- 
silievitch I Well, forgive me, old fellow : embrace 
me, and don't be angry. Come, V. Y., let us have 
a chat over our supper. And you, boy,' to the 
Cossack, ' bring us a bottle of champagne.' 

SkobelefF was no tippler, and I never saw him 
the worse for drink, but he was very fond of 
champagne. In Plevna he assured us, as I well 
remember, that the bottles we were then drinking 


were tlie last, and that lie would not drag a single 
bottle with him over the mountains ; but this was 
evidently only a stratagem of war, for now^ there 
was another bottle after all, and to-morrow there 
will probably be yet another if we give the Turks 
a good beating. My comrade, however, was a little 
out of humour: on the one hand, because he was 
haunted by the thought that he had not checked 
the Turks, and that he would be accused of pur- 
posely causing Mirski to fail ; and, on the other 
hand, apparently, because I had been an involun- 
tary spectator of his assault upon the Cossack. 
Our talk turned again on the folly of attacking 
with an insufficient force, &c. 

I did not know where I should pass the night, 
when by accident I came upon a cottage which 
was occupied by Skobeleff's orderlies. I found 
a bright fire on the hearth, before which we laid 
ourselves down, without any ceremony, and slept 
soundly. They were young fellows, by no means 
fashionable, and not to be compared, as far as 
appearance went, with the dandies of Gourko's 
staff; but, to make up for that, they were brave 
and gallant men, who had stood many a shower 
of bullets. 

The next morning, before daybreak, I went to 
the advanced guard. The weather was misty. The 


bivouac-fires began to die out. SkobelefF was in 
no hurry to begin the struggle ; he was perhaps 
waiting for Dukmassoff and Eadetski's orders. It 
w^as already bright daylight when I ascended one 
of the neighbouring heights with CharanofF, who 
had been told off to observe the enemy's move- 
ments ; every quarter of an hour I wrotere ports 
for him to Skobeleff on what we saw in front 
of us. The mist began to clear, but the moun- 
tains were still half-shrouded, and the Shipka 
was not visible at all. Now, as also during the 
whole night, single shots, at longer or shorter 
intervals, were heard from the valley and from the 
Shipka. As on the previous day, the Tcherkesses 
formed a chain round the village ; the guns were 
silent. Both sides were evidently in a state of 
expectation, and preparing for the coming battle. 

Presently, on the farther side of Shenovo, 
where Mirski lay, the firing began to grow sharper. 
On our side everything was quiet. We had a good 
laugh with Charanoff over our fears of being cut 
off by the Tcherkesses. There were three or four 
of us. We had ventured out a long way in front ; 
the mist had not quite cleared away, when we saw 
ten or twelve dark figures, who approached us 
from the Shenovo side, stood still, looked round, 
and then strode off in a direction which would soon 


place them between us and our friends. We were 
already preparing to retreat, in order not to be cut 
off from the main body, when the mist hfted and 
we saw — some large dogs, which were seeking the 
remains of the soldiers' meals. 

It was as well that I had refrained from 
reporting to SkobelefT that a party of mounted 
Tcherkesses, &c. ; he would have had a fine 
laugh at our expense. His laugh was loud and 
clear, with a curious gutteral sound — ' Kha ! kha ! 
kha ! ' 

On the further side the firing steadily in- 
creased. It was evident that another fierce 
struggle was beginning there ; and I had scarcely 
had time to write to the general and suggest re- 
connoitring in the direction of Shenovo, when his 
orderly appeared in the. distance. He sent us 
orders to retire, and at once began the battle. 

Of our heavy field-pieces not a single one had 
arrived ; the Bulgarian Militia put forth all their 
strength, but yet could not accomplish anything, 
though I think that, under Gourko, one or two guns 
would nevertheless have been brought up ; he 
would have given orders to pull them up by the 
teeth. We had to confine ourselves again to our 
mountain guns. On the other hand, the whole of 
the cavalry had come down — i e. a regiment of 


Moscow dragoons, a regiment of St. Petersburg 
Uhlans, and two regiments of Don Cossacks. Of in- 
fantry there had come down one rifle brigade, the 
Bulgarian Militia, and the Uglitch, Kasan, Susdal, 
and Vladimir regiments of the 16th division. The 
two last-named regiments had suffered great losses 
at Plevna, and remained this time in the reserve. 

The rifle brigade and the Bulgarian Militia 
advanced first, in order to fall on the right flank of 
the enemy. A terrible fusilade began. 

Dukmassofl' also appeared soon after with a 
cheery smile but a badly damaged face. He had 
had a fall on the way and had knocked his face 
against a tree. ' Eadetski approves of all that I 
have done,' said Skobeleff" to me with an air of satis- 
faction, showing me a letter he had just received. 

Here too came an orderly from General Mir ski 
with the news that he had fought a severe battle, 
and that he had taken the village of Shipka, but 
that no one was supporting him. I was parti- 
cularly astonished at the news of the taking of the 
village of Shipka, which was evidently added to 
improve the story ; for one of Skobelefl^s orderlies 
had been there that very morning with a sotnia 
of Cossacks, and had not found a soul. I drew 
Skobeleff^s attention to this point. ' Ah, Yassily 
Yassilievitch,' said he, ' that is it, of course ; but, 


nevertheless, I am bound to accept the statement 
when I have it in writing from one of the generals 
of H.M. the Czar.' The cavalry were commis- 
sioned to turn the enemy's position, and cut off 
his communication with Kasanlyk. 

From the left flank, which had opened the 
attack, a number of wounded were moving to the 
rear. Soon, however, it was evident that the others 
also were beginning to retire. I could not believe 
my eyes. Hundreds of soldiers are forced back ! 
they turn, they flee — the whole detachment be- 
gins to waver — it is no longer possible to doubt 
it ; they are repulsed ! ' Michael Dmitrievitch,' 
said I to Skobelefl^, ' our men are utterly routed.' 
' That does sometimes happen,' he answered with 
a strangely playful smile. He at once called Pani- 
utin with the Uglitch Eegiment. ' Advance, in 
God's name ! ' he commanded. Paniutin answered, 
'Very good, sir,' took off his cap, crossed him- 
self (the whole regiment following his example), 
and did not wait to have the order repeated. 
'His fingers liave been itching for a long time,' 
said SkobelefT to me ; ' and if Paniutin is beaten 
back, I will lead the men into action myself.' 

I have taken part in many battles, but I must 


confess that I had never seen a fight carried on 
with such precision. ' Jews to the front ! ' com- 
manded SkobelefF (which meant : ' Music here ! ' 
because almost all the musicians were of the Jewish 
race). To the sound of the music, with colours 
flying, and with a step as regular as on the parade 
ground, one battalion of the Uglitch Eegiment fol- 
lowed another, cheerfully responding to Skobeleff's 
greeting. This Valley of Eoses might have been 
taken for the Field of Mars at St. Petersburg on a 
parade day. To the sound of the marches played 
by the regimental band, the troops advanced to the 
attack, while the reserves played the national hymn 
and an evening prayer resembling a chorale, just as 
if it had been some military festival ! I remember 
that one battalion of the Vladimir Eegiment was 
marching with a furled banner. I rode up to the 
aide-de-camp and begged him, in the general's 
name, to unfurl it. 

SkobelefF afterwards said that he had been 
' clever ' that day because he had kept out 
of the fire ; but that was one of his peculiar 
expressions, for, as a matter of fact, shells and 
bullets fell in showers upon us. The Turks 
directed their projectiles chiefly at the reserves 
and at our group. About five shells fell so close 
to SkobelefF that he could not refrain from turnincc 


impatiently upon the Cossacks who had collected 
together near us with, ' Why the devil don't you 
separate F You will all be killed ! ' 

The indefatigable Count Keller had ridden off 
to deliver some order or other, and I in conse- 
quence had to write down some of Skobeleff's 
orders. I remember that he directed me to alter 
the concluding sentence of an order addressed to 
the commander of the cavalry — a sentence in 
which he was told to advance boldly. ' He is an 
old general ; I cannot write to him like that,' 
said Skobeleff. I had been moved to add that sen- 
tence by the fact that we had seen how one of the 
cavalry regiments, in the midst of which a shell 
fell, turned aside and moved on at a slower pace. 
I further remember that in an order to General 
Mirski I forgot to put down the date and hour, 
at which my friend was very angry. Fortu- 
nately Count Keller came up at this moment. 
' Why are you never here when you are wanted ! ' 
cried Skobeleff. ^ Write quick.' I was glad to 
have got off so well, and began to draw energeti- 
cally, which was much more to my taste than 

When Skobeleff sent X. to Paniutin with the 
order to begin the assault, I, who was standing 
by Skobeleff, added, 'And tell him to draw the 



reserves closer to him.' SkobelefF turned upon me 
again. 'I cannot possibly teach him his business 
just when he is going into action,' he said. But 
T thought to myself, Why not ? Later, about a 
year afterwards, I met Captain K. of the Eifles, 
and asked him why they had been driven back. 
He answered me exactly in the following words : 
' Because the reserves were too far off. The sol- 
diers went into action well, but met with strong 
resistance, and, looking round, missed their sup- 
ports and began to waver.' 

It is worth noticing that this mistake is often 
repeated, and can naturally only be attributed to 
the reluctance of commanders to expose their 
reserves to a heavy fire. On the part of Skobeleff, 
who, when the state of affairs needed it, never 
spared his men, it was simply inadvertence. 

Paniutin went boldly at the enemy : he ap- 
proached the Turkish trenches in close order, 
without firing, merely from time to time ordering 
his men to lie down. ' Just look at Paniutin ! ' 
I said to Skobelefi*; ' I thought he was better at 
talking than acting, and now he proves himself 
a regular hero.' 

' Let me tell you,' returned SkobelefF, taking 
his field-glass for a moment from his eyes, ' that 
Paniutin is a tempestuous creature.' 


I can still distinctly see SkobelefF as he stood 
that day in the snow, in his open overcoat, follow- 
ing the course of the battle attentively with his 
field-glass. From time to time, without changing 
his position, he gives this or that order, or, if the 
shot whistle too sharply round him, sends the 
Cossacks with their horses to the devil ; his gene- 
ral's guidon attracts the particular attention of the 
enemy, and the guidon also is sent to the devil. 

I made a little sketch of the general position 
of the troops engaged on either side, and re- 
member that while I was drawing a fragment of 
a shell rolled close up to the chair on which I sat. 

In front of us, like a blue line, stretched the 
oaks of the village of Shenovo, from which the 
smoke of the cannon and musketry fire rose 
continually. On the left heavy white clouds con- 
cealed the Shipka ; but the booming of guns and 
the crackUng of muskets were to be heard from 
that quarter also. It was evident that Eadetski 
too had made up his mind to attack. 

The Kasan Regiment hastened to the support 
of the Uglitch : they had to attack the Turks in 
the centre, to the left of Paniutin. ' Go on, 
brothers, in God's name, and make no prisoners!' 
called Skobeleff to them. ' We'll do our best, your 
Excellency,' was the reply. 



' Make no prisoners ' meant, in plain language, 
' Cut everybody down without mercy.' I reminded 
Skobeleff of those words the next day. ' Did I 
really say that ? ' he asked. The Uglitch and Kasan 
regiments drove the Turks completely from their 
positions. It is common enough, in a picture of a 
battle, to see the commanding officer lead a regi- 
ment with the colours in his hand : this Paniutin 
actually did, and it was mainly through his efforts 
that the battle was ultimately decided in our 

It is worthy of notice that this same Uglitch 
Eegiment, on the day of the assault — on August 
30 — during the second attack on Plevna, established 
itself so firmly in the vineyards that it could not 
be induced to leave them. To such a degree does 
the bravery of the soldiers depend on the bravery 
of their leaders. 

The battle was evidently won. Skobeleff 
now seemed less nervous ; he laughed and joked. 
When General Stoletoff came up to him, I whis- 
pered to Skobeleff that he ought now to make 
friends with him ; and although the elderly Stole- 
toff at first laughingly refused to conclude a treaty 
of peace, they nevertheless finally embraced each 
other. Stoletoff had come up to Skobeleff while 
the fusilade was still going on, and had said 


something to him, upon which the latter had 
answered impatiently : ' Leave me alone ! ' ' What 
reason had you for being so short with him?' 
I asked Skobeleff afterwards ' He was not in 
his right place,' answered Skobeleff; ' when his 
troops are attacking, his place is with them and 
not with me. I do not like that kind of thing.' 
On that day, however, my friend N. D. fared the 
worst. On his making some remark, Skobeleff 
said to him, ' Vassily Ivanovitch, please go away.' 
N. D. stepped back a little. 'No — quite away, 

About two o'clock a Turkish officer who had 
been taken prisoner was brought in. He told us 
that all was lost on their side — that their whol6 
force was in flight. This officer rode afterwards 
for several days in Skobeleflfs suite, evidently much 
pleased at his treatment. 

About three o'clock a Cossack comes galloping 
up to Skobeleff — ' Your Excellency, the Turks 
have hoisted the white flag.' Skobeleff and all of us 
mounted our horses and rode at full speed towards 
Shenovo. The nearer we got to the village the 
greater was the number of the dead we saw ; the 
Turkish batteries were full of dead. The Turks 
had evidently remained to the last moment at their 
posts, and our soldiers had carried out Skobeleff 's 


order to the letter — none had escaped with their 
lives. The Turkish trenches were likewise filled 
with bodies. It was strange that so very many 
dead were found in the trenches. The Turks had 
evidently been too eager, and had awaited our 
men in front of their fortifications. 

When we had ridden through a portion of 
Shenovo we turned to the left towards the hills. 
N. D. was very nearly caught on a tree and thrown 
out of his saddle ; but he was in the best of spirits 
in spite of it. A talented author, in war he was 
an indefatigable reporter, and contrived to be pre- 
sent at everything that was going on. Though 
he was rather stout and solid in person, he rode 
quite a small mountain horse, which, according to 
him, possessed some peculiar qualities, one of them, 
and certainly not the last in importance, being the 
power to carry a man of his figure. 

Troops of prisoners met us. SkobelefF had 
been informed that the cavalry had taken prisoners 
six thousand Turks, who were retiring towards 
Kasanlyk. We also met troops of Eussian soldiers, 
whose commander received a sharp reproof for 
their irregular marching. 

We rode about looking for the Turkish com- 
mander-in-chief with the white flag. On the way 
we saw Paniutin, who had shouted himself quite 


hoarse, but nevertheless was making even more 
noise than usual ; in fact every one, from the 
highest rank to the lowest, was hoarse that day 
as if by command. 

All about us lay vast numbers of dead bodies 
and of abandoned weapons. I was riding by 
Skobeleff, and I said to him : ' Do you remember 
how you doubted whether you were doing right 
in waiting to collect your forces ? Now you see 
what you have accomplished — what a brilliant 
victory you have won. And yet, for all that, I 
must say that you were rather nervous.' * Do you 
think so ? ' ' Certainly, although less than usual.' 

At last a colonel of rifles came with the sword 
of the Turkish commander-in-chief. ' Where is 
he himself?' ' There, by that large mound.' This 
mound was occupied from top to bottom by 
Turkish soldiers, who sat there in a state of apathy 
after throwing away their arms and ammunition. 
Down below there was a little wooden barrack, 
at the door of which stood, with a large suite, 
a Turkish general, not yet old, with brown hair 
tinged with grey and a serious expression. It was 
the Turkish commander-in-chief, Vessel Pasha. 
Skobeleff ordered them to come up to him. With 
a gloomy countenance Vessel Pasha approached, 
followed by other pashas and thirty or forty 


officers of different ranks. Skobeleif tried to 
comfort him with a few kindly words about the 
bravery of his soldiers ; but he listened with a sad 
face, and did not say a word. The whole suite 
looked on with equal gloominess. 

' Yassily Yassilievitch, ride quickly to General 
Tomilofski,' said Skobeleff to me in a low voice, 
and tell him to disarm the prisoners at once, with- 
out delay. I have intelligence that Suleiman Pasha 
is hastening up from Philippopolis, and I am afraid 
lest the Turks, on the first news of it, might 
snatch up their arms again.' I conveyed the 
order, with the explanation given by Skobeleff, and 
on my way back hastened to the top of the great 
mound to take the white flag as a remembrance ; 
it was a large piece of striped cotton-silk. I gave 
it to the Cossack X. to take care of, but he lost it. 
The Turks looked on with some apprehension 
while I took away the white flag : they probably 
thought that when it was gone they would all be 
cut down. 

' Will the Shipka surrender ? ' Skobeleff asked 
of Vessel Pasha. ' I do not know.' ' What ! You 
do not know ? — you, who are the commander-in- 
chief?' 'Yes, I am commander-in-chief, but I do 
not know whether they will obey my orders.' ' If 
that is the case, the Shipka shall be attacked at 


once,' cried Skobeleff, and ordered the Susdal and 
Vladimir Eegiments to move forward in the direc- 
tion of the high road which led to the pass. 

Hereupon there was some stir among the 
Turkish officers ; a few words were exchanged in 
Turkish, and then Vessel Pasha turned to Sko- 
beleff, saying : ' Wait, wait ; I will send the chief 
of my staff over there.' A Turkish colonel was 
sent off on this mission, accompanied by General 
Stoletoff from our side. Meantime, however, the 
brave Charanoff had already undertaken to inform 
General Eadetski of the results of the battle. 

Skobeleff was seriously afraid that the Turkish 
commander would perhaps offer resistance, espe- 
cially as Bulgarians were bringing intelligence 
from all sides of a movement of Suleiman Pasha in 
this direction ; which proved later to be correct, 
though not exactly in the way we imagined. 
Suleiman did, in fact, move from Philippopolis ; 
but in so doing he was not taking the offensive, 
but was retreating before Gourko's detachment. 

To say the truth, w^e scarcely regarded Skobe- 
lefi's threat to attack the Shipka as serious, nor, 
probably, did Skobeleff himself. The Turks must 
have been very much depressed if they really 
believed it. Our reserve brigade, consisting of 
two regiments, was not a force which could inspire 


much respect in an attack on such fortified and 
snow-covered points, at a height of 6,000 feet. 

Skobeleff had sent out his orderlies on various 
missions, and some of them remained rather 
a long time away, so that I again had to 
convey several of his orders. When we rode 
towards the hills, Vessel Pasha began to move 
also, with his large suite, behind our brigade and 
behind us. At this moment there were with 
Skobeleff only a Cossack with the general's stan- 
dard, X. D., and my insignificant self; and the 
Turkish oflicers were not a little puzzled at seeing 
the Eussian hero, before whom they had laid down 
their arms, with such a miserable suite. They 
could scarcely believe that this was really the 
' famous white general ' ; at least the chief of the 
staff questioned me about Skobeleff 's rank and dis- 
tinctions. It seemed to astonish him not a little 
that Skobeleff was only lieutenant-general, and not 
full general. I remember that this officer, when I 
delivered some order of Skobelefi^'s to him, looked 
at my half-military, half-civil costume, and turned 
to me with the words, ' May I ask who you are ? ' 
' I am the general's secretary,* I replied. I was 
then wearing a large Cossack cap, a short Eou- 


manian fur coat with long hair ; my feet were 
encased in huge boots ; a sword hung over my 
shoulder. The officer's Cross of the Order of St. 
George was the only thing which a little counter- 
balanced the excessive picturesqueness of this 

While we awaited the answer of the commander 
of the Shipka the troops moved on to the hills to 
the sound of music, and were there drawn up. 
SkobelefF rode through the ranks, and spoke to 
the soldiers in the tone of a friend rather than of 
a commanding officer. ' Now, you see, brothers, 
I always told you to obey your superiors. To-day 
you carried out your orders excellently, and have 
done your work well ; let it be so in the future.' 

The Shipka surrendered, but the answer arrived 
late, and we rode away without waiting for it. On 
the way a comical sight presented itself. Duk- 
massofF, who had disappeared without leaving any 
traces some time before, was leading two large 
grey Turkish horses belonging to the artillery 
across the road. When he caught sight of Skobe- 
leff he was embarrassed, and pulled the horses with 
all his might ; but they, as if to spite him, did not 
obey. SkobelefF turned his eyes aside. We laughed. 

The general took possession of Vessel Pasha's 
little wooden hut. I rode to Imetli for my night's 


lodjzin<i, with a commission from him to take a 
greeting to the wounded commander of the first 
brigade of his division, General X. The command 
of the brigade had been taken over temporarily 
by Paniutin. Count T. also was wounded in the 
hand ; he filled the post of colleague to StoletofF, 
who commanded the Bulgarian Militia. All our 
troops had suffered severe loss. Paniutin lost out 
of his regiment, if I am not mistaken, about 350 
men. The ranks of the Bulgarians, too, had been 
greatly thinned by the enemy. The Eifles, who 
had fought very bravely, lost still more. With 
regard to the Eifles, it must be observed that they 
form separate battalions and advance at the be- 
ginning of the battle, and consequently are at the 
front at the time of attack. Their losses are there- 
fore always greater than those of other portions of 
the troops. This proportionately large loss of the 
Eifles in Gourko's Guards roused the Emperor's dis- 
pleasure. It was decided to spare the Eifles more, 
i.e. to let them march to the front at the beginning 
of the battle, but only take part in the actual 
attack in case of necessity ; though this is surely 
impracticable. The moment of attack is seldom 
decided exactly beforehand, but each commander 
generally chooses the proper moment, which is 
partly determined by the position of the enemy, 


and partly by the temper of his own troops. To 
withdraw the troops stationed in front at the very 
moment when they are getting keen is likely to 
have a very bad effect. 

On the way to Imetli I saw in one place some 
soldiers busy with a big Turk. They were turning 
his pockets inside out and tearing out the lining 
of his coat. Now they took something up, and 
now threw it down again on the ground. The 
Turk was not yet dead : muffled sounds broke from 
his throat. What a strong Turk ! If he had 
had strength, how he w^ould have paid out the 
soldiers ! 

The battery on the nearer flank of the enemy is 
literally filled with bodies. My horse shies at the 
awful sight. In the trenches round the battery 
Eussians and Turks lie mingled together, the 
number of our men being considerable. One body 
attracted my attention ; the face, which was young, 
showed him to have been what one calls a raw 
youth. He was a volunteer. The body lay apart 
from the rest, the arms and feet stretched out, the 
eyes open. His boots — that most important article 
of clothing in a campaign — had been taken off, his 
pockets turned out, and a large number of letters 


lay about — the enemies who robbed him were not 
likely to care for these letters. But they had left 
him also the golden cross round his neck. I took 
up the letters and glanced at them to discover the 
name of the fallen youth. He was the son of a 
noble family in the south of Eussia. All the tender- 
ness of a mother was expressed in these letters : she 
blessed him over and over again, besought him to 
spare himself, told him of packages sent off with his 
favourite fruit-syrup, &c. 

The figure of a soldier often appeared near me. 
He went to the bodies of the officers one after 
another, bent down, looked at the dead man's face, 
and w^ent on. I followed him with my eyes. At 
last he bends down over a body and arranges and 
cleans the dress, puts the head straight, folds the 
hands on the breast and kisses them. 

It was an officer's servant, who had found 
his dead master ; for the last time he arranged his 

Late in the evening I entered the cottage where 
our young fellows were quartered ; it was full of 
harness. The practical DukmassoiF had chosen out 


a complete team of three from among the horses 
taken from the Turks, and was now endeavouring 
to procure the necessary harness. ' Where are you 
going to take that? ' ' Home to the Don,' was his 
answer. I bought a small horse from a Turk, 
because mine, after the toils of the last two days, 
was not up to his work. Besides that, I got a 
complete Turkish equipment ; it was to have a place 
in my pictures. 

I forgot to mention that soon after Yessel- 
Pasha had surrendered SkobelefF rode to Sviato- 
polk-Mirski, who had command of the other division. 
I rode with him, and saw that although the generals 
embraced and kissed each other there was con- 
straint between them. SkobelefF was evidently not 
pleased with the little comedy acted by Mirski on 
receiving him. We found the general sitting in the 
open air at a table, which was, I am sure, put there 
to give a touch of solemnity to the reception, as if 
he had been about to hold a trial. 

They told us there that the division had lost on 
the first day 2,500 men, and on the second day, as 
nothing was to be seen of Skobeleff, they were 
about to retreat (!) But just then music was heard, 
followed by loud cheering, musketry fire, and the 
thundering of cannon. It was Skobeleff s attacking 
column. So, although Mirski liad to endure 


the first onset of the Turks and experienced a 
hard fight, his fate was evidently decided by Sko- 

On the following morning I came to Shenovo. 
They told me Skobeleff* was looking for me, I 
found him on horseback, just about to inspect the 
troops. We rode slowly apart. The general 
observed that he had a favour to ask of me, and I 
must promise him first to grant it. ' With plea- 
sure.' ' The matter is this,' he began ; ' gossip and 
slander are beginning. It is said that I purposely 
allowed the Turks to almost overwhelm Mirski, 
purposely did not give help the first day in order 
to appear as a deliverer the second. Mirski is 
intriguing. He is simply a thief ; for, do you know 
what he did ? He went into my hut when I was 
away, demanded from my servant, Kurkofsky, 
Vessel Pasha's sword, and carried it off to give it 
up to Radetski. Is not that steaUng? — for the 
pasha surrendered and gave up his sword to me. 
Mirski is older than I am, but only in years, not 
in rank ; we are both commanders with equal 
rights, both under Eadetski, not one under the 
other. You know, Yassily Yassilievitch, what 
happened : you remember that I made every effort 


to come to his assistance, but I could not imperil 
the success of the expedition to procure laurels 
for Mirski. Eide to headquarters, and tell his 
Imperial Highness the facts of the matter.' 'This 
commission is, I confess, very disagreeable to me,' 
I answered. ' I was always very cautious in my be- 
haviour at headquarters ; and although the Grand 
Duke was always friendly to me, he might say the 
matter was no concern of mine.'- ' Do not refuse 
ray request,' said Skobeleff ; ' do it for me : you 
promised.' ' Very well,' I assented, ' I will ride 
off.' I advised that meanwhile Tchaikofski, the 
officer from headquarters who was with Skobeleff, 
should be sent with the official announcement. I 
knew he was an honest fellow incapable of slander. 
During this conversation we had left the vil- 
lage. The troops were drawn up with the left 
flank towards Mount St. Nicholas, and the front 
towards Shenovo. Suddenly Skobeleff drove his 
spurs into his horse's flanks and dashed along at 
full gallop, swinging his cap high in the air and 
calling out to the soldiers, ' In the name of our 
country, in the name of the Emperor, I thank you, 
brothers.' I observed that there were tears in his 
eyes. The enthusiasm of the soldiers is difficult 
to describe. Caps flew into the air ; they cheered 
as if they would never stop. Skobeleff said to me 



later that he had very nearly made a faux pas. 
As he uttered the words 'In the name of our 
country,' it fortunately occurred to him to add, ' in 
the name of the Emperor ' ; otherwise he might 
have been accused of Nihilism. 

Soon after I rode through the mountains to 
Selvi. I was given a number of telegrams which 
I was to despatch to Eussia to relatives of the 
senders. I proposed to Vessel Pasha to send a 
telegram to Constantinople, and the chief of his 
staff gave me a piece of paper on which he had 
written in French, ' After many bloody struggles 
to save the army, I have surrendered with the 
pashas and the whole army. — Vessel.' 

N. D. started with me ; he wanted to make 
observations on the Shipka in order to be able 
to send his newspaper as complete a report as 
possible of the course of affairs. I have seldom 
laughed as much as I did then. N. D. did not 
appear on his own horse, which was in need of 
rest, but on a tall thin Cossack horse from the 
Don, which Dukmassoff had placed at his dis- 
posal. ' Where on earth did you get that ani- 
mal from ? ' 'I want to try it : Dukmassoff wants 
to sell it ; it is a real Don horse,' N. D. answered 
from his lofty perch. At the first step which the 
feputed Don horse took his character was gone ; 



for when N. D. urged him to greater speed he be- 
gan to kick ; and the further we went the worse 
it got. I laughed until I cried, but N. D., in a 
rage, lashed his horse and exclaimed, ' Just wait ; 
I will teach you, I will do for you. What a rascal 
that DukmassofF is ! He would sell me this horse, 
would he ? We shall see.' His generally good- 
natured face was quite disfigured by his vexation. 
His steed began to turn round under his lashes ; 
with head down, it turned about, moved its tail up 
and down, and kicked. 

In the village of Shipka, everything was de- 
stroyed except the church ; not one house remained 
whole. We rode along the road up the hill. The 
deserted cannon stood on the Turkish batteries. 
The Turks were seeking out the most valuable of 
their possessions and putting them into their knap- 
sacks, preparing to begin their toilsome march 
into captivity. At the highest trench, which 
was strongly fortified, I was startled by the ter- 
rible number of Eussian bodies. None lay by the 
breastwork ; which proves, contrary to the official 
report, that our men did not storm the Turkish 
fortifications themselves, but only advanced up to 
the broad ditch which had been made some little 
distance from the entrenchment, and there planted 


From thence I sent my horse on to the road 
again, but began myself to climb up the rock 
at the same spot where in September Suleiman 
Pasha undertook his fierce attack on the Shipka. 
The whole path was now thickly strewn with 
bodies. The stench was unbearable, for the snow 
scarcely covered the scene of horror. Progress 
was here so difficult that I admired the bravery of 
the Turks, who, as they climbed the steep ascent, 
were obliged to cling to the remains of bushes and 
regularly crawl through the ranks of the dead. I 
did not want to turn back, but I could not venture 
to go on ; creeping over the bodies on all fours 
was hard enough, and there was such an odour 
that I felt quite ill. Fortunately a soldier ap- 
peared at the top of the rock. 

'Brother,' I called with a voice of despair, 
' help me.' He came down, gave me his hand, and 
pulled me up to the rock, where I breathed freely. 

In N.'s mud-hut, with which I was already 
acquainted, I found General Molski, with whom I 
shared a bottle of champagne to celebrate the 
victory. N. was not there, he had to take over 
muskets, guns, and flags from the Turks. 

In the evening I went into the mud-hut occupied 
by General Petrushefski, also an old Turkestan ac- 
quaintance. I found with him Brigadier-General 


Biskupski, the chief of Eadetski's staff, Generals 
Dmitrofoski and S., the latter an officer on the 
general staff, who was with Mirski during our flank- 
ing movement. The conversation was very lively. 
Although they were evidently cautious in my 
presence, I found that Skobeleff was severely cri- 
ticized there for his victory over Vessel Pasha, 
although those present were his friends. S., who 
was with Mirski, was particularly vexed at Skobe- 
leff, probably because he was his particular friend. 
I have often observed that after a battle, when the 
time comes for rewards, the best friends fall foul 
of each other. Skobeleff, besides, had incurred the 
censure of his friends for along time because he had 
outstripped them. I took up Skobeleff's defence. 

' Do you think that our attack led to nothing? ' 
Dmitrofski asked me. ' I do not think that. Your 
attack must have greatly alarmed the Turks ; to 
be attacked on three sides must have driven them 
to despair. I believe that each did his duty.' 

I had not time to visit General Eadetski, and 
drove in a sleigh, which had been put at my dis- 
posal most kindly by Biskupski, to Gabrovo. A 
drive to Selvi w^ould have been fruitless, because 
the commander-in-chief had moved his head- 
quarters to Gabrovo. He was expected there that 
very morning. As soon as the Grand Duke arrived 


I went to him. Skalon and Skobeleff's father 
met me. ' You come from the detachment, from 
Misha ! ' they called out as they saw me, and took 
nie to the Grand Duke. I related what I knew 
of the battle in the most conscientious manner. 
In order to discover what impression my incom- 
plete narrative produced, I added that Skobeleff 
was blamed because he had not made the attack 
a day earlier ; to attack with half our strength 
would, however, have been a great risk,, apart from 
the fact that, even in the event of success, the 
greater part of the enemy's troops would have re- 
treated and escaped, as we had no cavalry which 
could hold them. 

' That is certainly true,' replied the Grand Duke. 

I then told the elder Skobeleff that I had come 
to the Grand Duke at his son's request. 'You 
ought to have told the Grand Duke how many 
guns and colours have been taken ; you only told 
him how they attacked to the sound of music' ' I 
narrated the affair as I understood it ; the Grand 
Duke will hear about the guns, and that sort of 
thing, which is so dear to you, without my assist- 

I learnt later, in the course of conversation 
with Skalon, that the immediate conclusion of 
peace was contemplated. ' Impossible ! ' I said. ' I 


will tell the Grand Duke at once that it is im- 
possible. Was it worth while to shed so much 
blood ? ' ' Well, then, go and tell him.' 

I went aizain to the commander-in-chief, with 
whom Prince Tcherkaski was sitting. 'Your 
Imperial Highness, 1 have a few words to say.' 
* Certainly,' replied the Grand Duke. Tcherkaski 

' Is it true that you are about to conclude 
peace ? ' 

' Not I, my friend ; but St. Petersburg intends.' 

' Evade the order somehow.' 

' It is impossible. If the order is given I make 

' It is not possible ! In that case the war ought 
not to have been begun.' 

' What is to be done .^ I will do what I can ; 
but I am afraid they will not ask me at all.' 

' Cut the telegraph wires : commission me : I 
will interrupt the communication. A peace which 
is not concluded in Constantinople is not to be 
thought of; at least it should be a peace in 
Adrianople.' Skalon, who had come in with me, 
supported me. 

'I will go as far as possible, be assured.' .With 
these words the Grand Duke dismissed me. 

The Grand Duke ordered his horse, to go and 


visit the wounded officers in the hospital. As the 
hospital was quite close and the street was covered 
with ice, I persuaded him to go on foot ; the 
people greeted hira enthusiastically. 

It must be confessed that the Grand Duke, in 
spite of numerous defeats and mistakes, v/as very 
popular. Besides, it was known in the army that 
he had to contend not only with the Turks, but 
also with various private interests. 

I told him that I had ordered a number of 
Turks who had made a disturbance to be taken 
out of the hospital. He gave his approval. He 
talked for a long time with Kuropatkin and Las- 
kofsky in the hospital. The following day he had 
to cross the mountains to inspect Eadetski's, Sko- 
beleff 's, and Mirski's troops. 

I passed the night with my brother, who was 
detained in Gabrovo by a wound in the foot, and 
then I started on my way back to SkobeleiF. 

On the Shipka there was such a snowstorm 
as it w^ould be difficult to imagine : whirling snow- 
drifts threw us down and obliterated the paths. 
Petrushefski and Biskupski begged me to stay the 
night with them ; but I would not listen to them, 
drank my tea, and continued on my way — a decision 


which, to confess the truth, I afterwards regretted, 
for the snowstorm was so violent that it was im- 
possible not only to ride but even to walk. The 
wind was so strong and the road so slippery that 
I fell down continually. My Cossack also fell 
several times, and, worst of all, broke my paint- 
box in doing so. We descended the whole night, 
and early in the morning I reached Shenovo. 

Count Keller, whom I met later, told me of an 
amusing incident concerning General Mirski, The 
story was only credible because it came from the 
lips of such a modest and brave officer. General 
Eadetski, who was in command of an army corps, 
and had the chief direction of the whole Shipka 
arm}^ was about to come down from the pass. 
Count Keller sent out a Cossack with orders to 
bring him word the moment the general left the 
mountains, in order that a guard of honour 
might be drawn up in proper time. When 
Eadetski arrived. Count Keller, who received him 
with the others, saw that the men who formed the 
guard of honour did not belong to Skobeleff's divi- 
sion, which was the nearer one, but to Mirski's, 
which was the more distant ; he also saw the 
Cossack whom he had sent standing by the guard 
of honour. ' Why,' he called out to him, ' did you 
not summon our guard of honour, which was in 


readiness ? ' * His Excellency did not give the 
order,' he answered. It turned out that General 
Mirski had met the Cossack and learnt from him 
what he was sent to do. He thereupon detained 
him, and in the mean time ordered a guard of 
honour of his own men to be drawn up. 

I found SkobelefT busy with preparations for 
the reception of the commander-in-chief. He told 
me, among other things, that he had told Eadetski 
how General Mirski got possession of Vessel Pasha's 
sword, and that Eadetski had observed: 'Do let 
that alone. How can you care about such trifles ? ' 

It gave me great amusement to watch SkobeleiT's 
preparations for the reception of the Grand Duke, 
and to see how fearful he was of committing some 
mistake. He had no idea of what military etiquette 
required in the matter of sentries and parades. 
BeHeving that the Grand Duke would make the 
troops march past in line, he racked his brains 
as to how he should behave, how he should give 
his orders, where he should stand, &c. His only 
deliverer was his orderly, Homitchefski, an officer 
belonging to a regiment of the Yang Guards. ' Tell 
me quicker : where must the sappers stand ? ' 'At 
the head, your Excellency.' ' Well, then, how 
have I got to give the word of command ? ' ' Your 
Excellency will then say,' &c. When I saw 


with what seriousness he allowed himself to be in- 
structed how to command, where to stand, &c., 
I could not help laughing aloud. ' What are you 
laughing at, Yassily Yassilievitch ? ' Skobeleff asked, 
like an injured child. ' How can I help laughing ? 
A general, before whom the Turks have laid down 
their arms, is learning a set of words like a school- 

Several times Skobeleff took me aside and asked, 
' Vassily Yassilievitch, tell me ; did the Grand Duke 
listen to your account attentively? How did he 
answer you ? ' and so on. 

High up on the mountain a long line of dots 
became visible coming towards us ; it was the 
Grand Duke with his suite. Skobeleff's perplexity 
became more and more evident ; he looked quite 
miserable. I observed that he always had a very 
troubled expression when he had to receive people 
of high rank. Such a situation was evidently very 
disagreeable to him, because he was uncertain 
what would be said to him and how he would be 

The Grand Duke arrived at the foot of the 
mountain, where General Eadetski awaited him. 
When he was still at some distance, the Grand 


Duke swung his cap in the air and called out, 
' Fedor Fedorovitch, hurrah ! ' He eml)raced, kissed 
and congratulated Eadetski on his promotion to 
the rank of general of infantry, and decorated him 
with the Cross of St. George of the second class. 
Then the Grand Duke rode up to SkobelefF. gave 
him his shoulder to kiss, and — that was all. I 
looked at Michael Dmitrievitch. It is painful to me 
even now to recall the miserable,! might say help- 
less, expression in his face ; sadly he rode behind 
the Grand Duke and gave confusedly the necessary 
orders. I was sorry for him, and I was ready to say 
to the Grand Duke : ' Look at Skobeleff. Either he 
has failed, or you do not understand what it costs a 
man like him to be passed over before everybody. 
At least have some pity for him ; say aloud that he 
has done good service.' The soldiers also seemed 
to feel the painful situation, for they received the 
Grand Duke with such a small show of enthusiasm, 
shouted hurrah so feebly and unwillingly, that the 
Grand Duke himself must have noticed the cold- 
ness of his welcome. I do not know whether he 
understood the situation. He rode through the 
lines and presently took his departure. 

Skobeleff accompanied him, spoke some time 
with him, and then seemed more tranquil. 

Skobeleff defeated and took prisoner a Turkish 


army. His immediate superior received for this 
act the Order of St. George — the highest mihtary 
distinction ; his colleague, the commander of the 
second detachment, although his attack was not a 
very successful one, received the same order ; but 
Skobeleff himself did not receive this distinction, 
because he was too young for the second class. 
Promotion was denied him for the same reason. 
Much later he was given, in common with many 
others, a sword for bravery ; but, as he already 
possessed two such w^eapons, he had to choose 
between keeping the sword in its case, or wearing 
all three swords on solemn occasions, which would 
have been equally uncomfortable and unusual. 

The Grand Duke expressed displeasure at 
several matters ; among others, that a large number 
of our dead belonging to Mirski's force had not 
yet been buried. 

The commander-in-chief rode to Kasanlyk, 
whither headquarters were transferred. 1 rode to 
Skobeleff, with whom I was to dine. His father 
was there ; also General Strukoff and some one else. 
When I was leaving him in the evening I observed 
that he had not received the Grand Duke in 
a manner worthy of him. That annoyed him. 
' What do you expect me to do ? I shall not 
make the soldiers artificially enthusiastic, and 


order them to throw their caps in the air.^ He 
was coldly received because they did not want to 
receive him warmly. Do you think I am a ninny ? 
Am I to salute Radetski with cheers ? He has the 
honour : very well ; but he might have found a 
kind word for me — he did not even thank me.' 

^ This generally takes place on a signal given by one of the suite of 
the commaudiug officer. 



I REMEMBEE as if it had been yesterday the 
occasion on which I first made acquaintance with 
SkobelefF in Central Asia in the year 1870. It 
was at Tashkend, in the only inn of the town. A 
Frenchman, named Girarde, who was tutor to the 
children of the governor, General Kaufmann, 
pointed out to me a young Hussar officer of strik- 
ing appearance, and begged leave to introduce 
' his former pupil, SkobelefF.' I shook the young 
man's hand ; he replied with a courteous bow, and 
with some rather extravagant expressions of his 
esteem for me and his happiness in making my 
acquaintance. I felt myself immediately drawn 
towards the young man (he was a year younger 
than myself) ; but I must confess that I did not 
show very much warmth in talking to him, on 
account of a very unpleasant affair in which he 
had lately been concerned. He had been ex- 
ploring the frontiers of Bokhara, and on his return 


made a report upon the suppression of brigandage 
in those parts — forty brigands killed, and so on, 
though, as afterwards appeared, there were no 
brigands at all. This gave rise to a grave scandal. 
The governor of the province, General Kaufmann, 
sent for Skobeleff, and, in the presence of a number 
of officers, rebuked him in a loud voice and in 
strong terms : ' You have told lies, and covered 
yourself with disgrace.' Skobeleff was challenged 
by two of his brother officers, wounded one of 
them, and had to leave Turkestan. 

Ten years later, the young lieutenant had risen 
to the rank of general, and had a command-in-chief 
in the war against the Turkomans. It must be 
allowed that he showed himself quite worthy of his 
advancement ; but in 1873, during the campaign of 
Khiva, he committed another error, which, though 
not so gross as that of 1870, w^as still serious 
enough : contrary to the orders of his superior 
officer, he led his men to the assault of Khiva at 
the very moment when a deputation was starting 
in order to surrender the town and to make com- 
plete submission to the Eussian commander. 

It was in this campaign, however, that 
Skobeleff made his reputation, and distinguished 
himself by an act of chivalrous daring. Of the 
three divisions which had been sent against Khiva, 



one, the Caucasian division, commanded by 
General Markosoff, was unable to reach its des- 
tination ; in attempting to advance too rapidly, 
the men exhausted their strength and rode their 
horses to death, and when they were only fifty 
miles from Khiva they were obliged to turn back. 
This piece of the road consequently had still to 
be explored, and a small expedition was to be sent 
out for the purpose. Skobelefi* volunteered to 
explore it by himself. He disguised himself as a 
Turkoman, and, with only two guides, actually 
explored and mapped out the road, to within nine 
miles of the well where the Caucasian division had 
turned back, and where a strong body of Turko- 
mans was now said to be encamped. I asked 
Skobeleff afterwards whether he had not met 
anybody on the way. ' Yes,' he replied ; ' but, 
whenever I saw people on the road, I sent my 
two guides on in front ; they would begin to 
talk about anything that came into their heads, 
principally about the Eussians, and meantime I 
would ride quietly by. Of course we rode chiefly 
at night and in the twilight.' For this feat 
Skobeleff received the long-coveted St. George's 
Cross of the fourth class. General Kaufmann told 
me that as he handed Skobeleff this token of 
gallantry he added these words : ' In my opinion 


you have now atoned for your former error ; but 
you have not yet won my esteem.' Bitter ! 

But Skobeleff won General Kaufmann's esteem 
in the campaign against Khokand, which soon 
followed. When the rebellion broke out, he 
escorted the Eussian embassy from Khokand to 
the frontier of Eussia, and at the same time 
secured the safety of the Khan, and laid his plans 
so well that he accomplished his purpose without 
the loss of a single man. One false step, one shot 
fired by the fugitives, who were a mere handful 
of men, would have been enough to bring on a 
bloody struggle, in which the rebels, with their 
overpoAvering numbers, must have been victorious. 
In the war which followed. General Kaufmann 
annihilated the forces of Khokand at Mahran>, 
and Skobeleff, as commander of the cavalry, was 
ubiquitous, and worked terrible havoc among the 
enemy, on one occasion repeating the stratagem by 
which Gideon the Israehte and Akbar the Great 
Mogul had won renown. When he heard that the 
enemy's cavalry were in the neighbourhood, he 
stole up to them at night with a picked body of 
Cossacks, threw himself upon them as they slept, 
with loud cries of ' Hurrah ! ' and put a great 
number to the sword. Skobeleff told me that they 
picked up 2,000 turbans on the field next day. 


At tlie time of the Eusso-Turkish war Skobeleif 
had already risen to the rank of major-general and 
won the St. George's Cross, and although when the 
war began his fame was lightly esteemed, and no 
command was given to him, yet his behaviour in 
the course of the war was such that at the end of 
it he was universally regarded as one of our first 
fighting generals, as the popular hero, and the 
bravest of the brave. 

But at the beginning of the campaign, being 
tired of inactivity, he took it into his head to do 
an extremely silly thing, which might have had 
serious consequences. He persuaded his father, 
who was at that time in command of a division of 
Cossacks, that it was possible for his troops to 
swim across the Danube. The river was in flood 
at the time, and at least two miles wide. The 
elder SkobelefF, being a cautious and prudent 
man, called the regimental colonels together and 
asked them their opinion. My friend Colonel 
Kucharenko, commanding the Kuban regiment, 
gave his opinion first, with his usual stammer : * It 
is imp-p -possible, quite imp-p-p-possible ! ' The 
brave Levis, commanding the Vladicaucasians, said 
it might perhaps be attempted, but that probably 
the greater part of the troops would be drowned. 
Then Skobeleff invited volunteers, and a fcAv 


ofiScers and men actually offered themselves. But 
they all turned back ; some gave up as soon as 
they found themselves out of their depth, others 
after swimming five or six hundred yards ; none 
got farther than the real bank of the Danube, 
which rose out of the floods and formed a kind of 
island. Michael Skobeleff alone swam on, while 
his father stood on the shore and cried continually, 
' Misha, turn back ; you will be drowned ; turn 
back, Misha ! ' But he would not turn, and swam 
on till he almost reached the further shore. He 
was picked up by a boat within a short distance of 
the land. His horse made the passage in safety ; 
but the Cossacks, with their short, heavy horses, 
would have fared much worse, and would certainly 
have found a watery grave — though, indeed, Sko- 
beleff's horse was not a remarkably good one, but 
only a very ordinary mare, and not a grey (his 
favourite colour), but a sorrel. 

This was neither the first nor the least feat 
of the kind that Skobeleff performed. Not long 
before his death, when he was in command of an 
army corps, he ordered his cavalry to cross a river. 
The men had no heart for the business ; the 
colonel declared they would all be drowned. 
Thereupon Skobelefi' jumped upon the back of the 
nearest troop-horse, and, though the animal showed 


great reluctance, compelled it to swim to the 
opposite shore and back again. ' You see, brothers, 
that it can be done,' said he to the regiment ; 
' now follow my lead.' And the regiment actually 
crossed the river and came back again without 
the loss of a single man. This river, however, was 
not two miles broad. 

When the Eussian troops were crossing the 
Danube, SkobelefF, who had not received any 
appointment, begged permission of General Dra- 
gomirofF to act as one of his orderly officers. He 
excited universal admiration by his fearlessness. 
Moving about under fire as calmly as if he were 
walking on the boulevards, he carried his orders 
always to the right quarter, inspired every one 
with fresh courage, and behaved like a fighting 
officer who knows his business. How strongly was 
he reprimanded afterwards by the commander- 
in-chief for meddling with matters that did not 
concern him ! 

In the second attack on Plevna Skobeleff was 
entrusted with a battalion — and what was the re- 
sult ? With this single battalion he actually saved 
our beaten troops : Prince Shahofskoi plainly 
states in his report that nothing but the gallant 
conduct of Skobeleff saved his corps from destruc- 
tion. With a mere handful of men he advanced 



right up to Plevna, forced the Turks, who had no 
idea that their assailants numbered only a few 
hundreds, to concentrate themselves, drew the 
whole force of the enemy's attack upon himself, 
and enabled our disordered regiments to retire in 
safety. My younger brother, who fell afterwards in 
the third assault upon Plevna, was with Skobeleff 
just at this time, and seeing the general's horse 
killed under him for the second time, dismounted 
and offered him his own. ' I won't take your 
horse,' said Skobeleff ; ' he is not a grey.' But the 
storm of bullets and shells became so heavy, and 
the Turks were advancing in such force, that he 
was obhged to accept my brother's horse after all, 
and though it was a sorrel it carried him out of 
the fire as well as his own grey could have done. 

At the battle of Lovisha, Skobeleff for the 
first time commanded a division, which numbered 
20,000 men. He was chief of the staff to General 
Prince Imeritinski, who put the conduct of affairs 
entirely into his hands, and was a spectator of the 
battle from a hill at some distance. After the 
capture of the forts, which assuredly no other 
Eussian general would have taken. Prince Imeri- 
tinski in his report called Skobeleff the hero of the 
day, as indeed he was. 

There is no doubt whatever that Skobeleff 


might have taken Plevna on August 30. But what 
could he do ? When, with the scanty forces of 
the left wing, he had, after three days' continuous 
lighting, taken the Turkish redoubt which com- 
manded the town, and begged for reinforcements, 
the authorities sent him, out of spite probably, a 
regiment which had been beaten and demoralised 
the day before. Osman Pasha threw himself upon 
' the white general ' with overwhelming forces, beat 
him, and drove him back to his previous position. 
Honi soit qui mal y pense. 

Skobeleff was always very busy, and both wrote 
and read a great deal. His reports to the com- 
mander-in-chief, treating of the behaviour of our 
officers and soldiers in the course of the Eusso- 
Turkish war, and the real causes of our temporary 
disasters, show remarkable powers of observation 
and contain many acute remarks. When I was 
with Skobeleff at Plevna, I read a number of these 
reports, and learned from him that they were not 
at all well received in high quarters. 

Skobeleff was master of French, English, and 
German, and had a remarkably thorough know- 
ledge of the country which was the theatre of the 
Eusso -Turkish war. He had a great admiration 


for the military genius of Napoleon among men of 
the past, and of Moltke among his contemporaries. 
He had a poor opinion of Totleben's abilities, 
and once, I remember, he was quite enraged 
because I spoke in praise of Gourko ; he could 
not help laughing when he remembered how that 
general once ducked under cover to avoid a Turk- 
ish shell. The other heroes of the Eusso-Turkish 
war he called cowards and dotards. ' What do 
you think, Yassily Yassilievitch ? ' he said to me 
once on coming out of a council of war, held just 
after the third attack upon Plevna, in which 
our great captains had been deliberating whether 
we should maintain our positions or not. ' What 
name do such creatures deserve ? Imagine an 
artist who should besmear his canvas continually 
with reds and blues and greens and other colours, 
without producing, and without the smallest faculty 
of producing, any intelligible result ! ' 

It is impossible for any one who has not 
actually seen Skobeleff under fire to imagine the 
calmness and coolness which he displayed in a 
storm of bullets and shells. Not that this calmness 
meant insensibility. I have already mentioned 
that Skobeleff, according to his own testimony, 


was full of apprehensions, and at the beginning 
of a battle always fancied that that day would 
assuredly be his last. How great, then, must 
have been his strength of will ! What an effort 
must this calmness have cost him ! Indeed, he 
was always in a state of internal excitement. 
When he was talking it was almost impossible for 
him to sit still ; he would pace up and down like a 
caged tiger. When he was obliged to sit still at 
table, he would take bread or anything else that was 
within his reach and knead it between his fingers. 
I often used to take him by the hand and tell him 
that he really must sit quiet for a little. 

For all his courage under fire, he was a regular 
coward at headquarters and in the presence of 
high personages. Before his troops he always 
appeared in smart dress and with his hair neatly 
trimmed and scented ; but when he appeared before 
his superiors it was always in a worn-out coat, 
with a cloak hanging all awry, and a cap crushed 
down on the back of his head, as if he were afraid 
that his elegance might give as much offence as his 
gallantry. On my second journey from Paris to 
the Danube, I visited Skobeleff's mother, who 
begged me to take a small case which her son 
much needed. When the luggage was being 
examined at the custom-house on the frontier I 


had to open the case, and found it to contain 
only cosmetics. In the company of persons of 
high rank SkobelefF was embarrassed, and wore an 
air of humility that was almost pitiable, the result, 
evidently, of suppressed excitement. It is the 
custom in Eussia to kiss the hand of the Czar and 
the Grand Dukes, or, if you wish to be particularly 
courteous, to kiss the hand and the shoulder ; but 
Skobeleff went so far as to kiss three times, and 
performed this ceremony so rapidly tliat it was 
impossible to stop him. 

This triple kissing, however, he did not reserve 
exclusively for these exalted personages. Once, 
when we were breakfasting together in a separate 
room of a gargote in Paris, he could not refrain from 
bestowing three kisses on the hand of the waitress, 
though she was a girl of quite ordinary appearance. 
On this occasion, however, he did not hurry himself, 
but performed the ceremony with feeling and with 
appropriate intervals. He actually wished to make 
this same girl a present of a hundred francs simply 
because she had changed a note of a thousand 
francs for him, and though I dissuaded him from 
this extravagance, he still insisted on giving her 
twenty francs. This reckless squandering of money 
is a genuine feature of the Slav character. He was 
good-natured, but his good-nature almost bordered 


on inconsiderateness. For instance, if lie met poor 
people, he generally ordered one of the subalterns 
who accompanied him to give the poor man a 
gold piece ; but as he often forgot the outlays 
made for him, and often had no money, it natu- 
rally followed that meeting poor people was more 
alarming to his orderlies than meeting the enemy. 
Latterly I noticed in him an inclination to do justice. 
I remember, for example, that after the battle of 
Shenovo I found him busy with a letter of apology 
to an officer commanding a battalion under him to 
whom he had been unjust. A general in command 
of a detachment who confesses a fault to a major is 
a rare, if not a unique, phenomenon in any army. 

Skobeleff gave me as a memento his banner 
which he had carried in twenty- two engagements. 
The list of these engagements, drawn up carefully 
by himself, I have deposited in the Imperial 
library. The banner hangs in my studio ; it is a 
piece of red silk, with a yellow cross, on a Cossack's 
pike, showing many bullet-holes, and much tattered 
by all the service it has seen. When he was start- 
ing on his last campaign against the Turkomans, 
he remembered the banner, and said I must give it 
back to him, or else give him a new one instead. 


I did not wish to give him back the old one, and 
for a long time could not make up my mind to 
give him a new one, as I knew that if he did not 
like it he would give it to the men to wrap their • 
feet in. At last, however, I presented him with a 
very handsome new banner. It consisted on one 
side of a fringed Indian shawl, and on the other of 
a piece of red Chinese satin with a St. Andrew's 
cross in blue, Skobeleflfs initials, and the year. I 
cut out the banner myself and my wife embroidered 
it. I lieard from my brother, who was then serv- 
ing as one of Skobeleffs orderlies, that the flag 
was much admired by the general and by the 
friendly Turkomans, and that they were never 
tired of looking at it. But presently began a series 
of misfortunes and failures ; the enemy made sallies 
from Geok-Tepe, killed many of our men, and 
took a quantity of arms, a flag, and two guns. 
Skobelefi* was in despair. ' Give me back my old 
banner,' he cried ; ' this new one is unlucky.' I 
refused. The enemy made another sally, and 
our army again endured heavy loss. He re- 
peated his demand : ' Give me back my lucky 
banner, and take your unlucky one.' 'I won't 
give it up,' was my answer. At last Skobelefl' took 
Geok-Tepe by storm, inflicting severe loss on the 
enemy, taking a great quantity of arms, &c., and 


gaining a triumphant success : so that the reputation 
of my banner was quite re-estabUshed, to the great 
dehght of the general and the Turkomans. This 
beautiful, lucky and unlucky flag now waves over 
Skobeleff's grave. 

This lovable and sympathetic nature was deeply 
tinged with superstition. SkobelefF believed in 
lucky and unlucky days, in lucky meetings, in 
omens and forebodings. Nothing would have 
induced him to sit down thirteen at table ; the 
spilling of a little salt was enough to make him 
start or even to jump up from his seat, and he 
could not stay in a room in which three candles 
were burning. 

One day SkobelefF said to me, ' Vassily Yassilie- 
vitch, what do you take to be the purpose of these 
Nihilists and Anarchists ? I am free to confess 
that I do not understand what they are about.' 
' Their views,' I replied, ' are, as T understand them, 
first, that there is to be no more war, and secondly, 
that all painting is humbug ; so that if they came 
into power, you with your generalship and your 
victories, and I with all my pictures, would be sent 
to the devil.' ' Now I understand,' said Skobeleff, 
' and from this moment I am their determined 



Skobeleff, liowever, like so many others, failed 
to understand that the springs of that violent 
revolutionary movement which goes by the name 
of NihiHsm lie deep down in the present state of 
society in Eussia, and that it is not to be sup- 
pressed by any conceivable police regulations. ' I 
am afraid that something terrible is going to 
happen/ I said to Skobeleff shortly before he 
started for Turkestan in 1880, when the attempts 
upon the life of the late Czar were becoming more 
and more frequent. ' My behef is,' he replied, 
' that they will all be trapped like so many mice.' 
' I believe, on the contrary,' said I, ' that they will 
achieve their purpose and kill the Czar.' After 
the assassination of Alexander II. Skobeleff said 
to my brother at Geok-Tepe, ' Yassily Yassilie- 
vitch told me some time ago that this was going 
to happen.' 

I remember Skobeleff telHng me that on his way 
through Odessa he met Privy Councillor Panutin, 
whose business it was to superintend the deporta- 
tion of Nihilists to the island of Sachalin. There 
were some seven hundred young people ready to 
be shipped off, some charged with serious, others 
with trifling offences, a certain proportion prob- 
ably being quite innocent. All were brought 
to the place where, as the Eussian proverb says. 


' Makar never yet drove his cattle.' ' When are 
you going to try all these cases ? ' asked Skobeleff ; 
' it will take a terribly long time.' ' What is there 
to try.^' answered the councillor; 'it does not take 
long to sentence them. We just send them off — 
God may judge them there.' 

SkobelefF's figure stands before me now, the 
figure of a beloved sympathetic man and highly 
gifted soldier, with all the merits and faults of the 
Slav character. 

It would be out of place here to repeat what 
SkobelefF said in the circle of his friends ; it is 
enough to say that he was always an advocate of 
the normal development of Eussia, of progress, not 
of retrogression. 

But it seemed to me that he had no fixed point 
of view in regard to these questions. I often told 
him that he might be bribed (not with money, of 
course, but with honours). He disputed this very 
warmly, and put on the appearance of being in- 
jured ; but I believe that I was not mistaken. 

SkobelefF was very ambitious, and would hardly 
have endured even a temporary loss of his com- 
mand. I attribute the change in his views with- 
in the last few months of his life to his ambition. 


When I attacked him at our last meeting in 
Berhn for his violent speech at St. Petersburg, he 
tried to justify himself When, however, I pointed 
out to him that he had done no one any good, and 
showed into whose hands he was playing by forcing 
Eussia into a war, he looked round to see that no 
one heard us, and said angrily, ' Then I will tell you 
the truth, Vassily Yassilievitch. I could not help 
myself ; they forced me into it ! ' ' 

As to who the persons were, I keep silence. 

He moreover gave me his word of honour not 
to make any more such speeches. He promised — 
and spoke again in Paris. 

P.S. — Skobeleff' s last attacks on Germany were 
not made without definite grounds. 

On his return from the manoeuvres of the Prus^ 
sian army, he seemed to me extremely excited ; 
everything that he had seen and heard in Germany 
pointed, he thought, to a speedy war with Russia : 
even in the words which the German Emperor 
addressed to him at his parting audience, words 
that seemed to me completely innocent, Skobe- 
Jeff heard a threat. I remember that he imitated 
the way in which, the Emperor William sat there 
on his horse, and the tone in wliich, surrounded 



by a numerous and brilliant suite, lie entrusted him 
with a greeting to the Emperor of Eussia. ' You 
have subjected us to the closest scrutiny ' (' Yous 
venez de m'examiner jusqu'a mes boyaux '), the 
German Emperor is reported to have said to 
him. ' You have only seen two corps, but tell 
his Majesty the Emperor that all the fifteen 
corps do their duty equally well when occasion 

These words must be authentic, for Skobelefl 
noted them down at once. I found nothing in 
them, as I have already said, which intimated a 
threat, but Skobeleff thought differently. Still more 
hostile feelings were roused in him by an expression 
used by the late Prince Frederick Charles. The 
Prince, known not only as a brave cavalry officer, 
but also as an honest and upright man, tapped 
Skobeleff on the shoulder in a friendly manner and 
said, ' My dear friend, do what you like, Austria 
must go to Salonica.' 

These words also were at once noted down by 
Skobeleff, and he could not think of them later 
with coolness. ' So it is a settled thing,' said he, 
stalking from one corner to the other of his little 
room like a tiger in a cage. ' So Germany helps 
them, and we are to be silent, and look on 
calmly ! ' &c. 


The speeches he made after this may have 
been precipitate, but they were not uttered under 
the influence of wine, as was maintained at the 
time. This is proved by the above reminiscence. 

As soon as the war was finished I returned to 
my studio, and began to transfer my impressions to 
canvas — impressions of battles, wounds, disease, 
and all sorts of misery, the inevitable attendants 
of every war. The result was such that people 
would not believe me ; they said that I lied, that 
my pictures were the work of my imagination. 

I remember that it was at this time that I 
made acquaintance with my great countryman 
Turgenieff, who was then living at Bougival, and 
consequently was my neighbour. I was then 
workinof at Maisons-Laffitte, on the ed^e of the 
forest of St.-Germain, where I had built two large 
studios — one, of enormous size, for the winter, and 
the other, of somewhat smaller dimensions, for the 
summer. The latter turns round upon wheels, 
and enables me to paint my pictures in full sun- 





I WAS not intimately acquainted with Turgenieff 
until the last years of his life, of which I now give 
a short account. 

Our acquaintance dates from the time when I 
w^as in the lower class of the naval cadet corps (in 
1855), to which he brought his nephew, also a 
Turgenieff. I then knew nothing of his works, 
but remember that both we cadets and our officers 
looked at Ivan Sergeievitch with curiosity. In 
fact, he was worth looking at. He seemed a giant, 
especially by contrast with little half- developed 
creatures like us. I can still see him, as if it were 
yesterday, with his hands crossed behind his back, 
walking about among our beds. 

His nephew, a little fellow^ with a face like a 
pug, was given the very first day his nickname of 
' Madcap ' ; he soon ran away from the corps, but 
Ivan k^ergeievitch brought him back again bound. 
I forgot to inquire after this nephew ; if he was 


not the Mislika of whom TurgeniefF afterwards 
wrote about and described, he was at any rate 
very like him. 

Many years passed. I read and re-read ' The 
Sportsman's Diary,' and then all Turgenieff 's stories 
and novels. It happened that I read Antono- 
vitch's critique on ' Fathers arid Sons * before I 
read the novel itself, and remember very well that 
it seemed to me partial. But when I read the 
novel I was much struck by the narrowness and 
one-sidedness of the critic's judgments. The effect 
this novel had upon me was immense. I have 
read it more than once since, discovering each time 
new beauties, new master-touches, and wondering 
each time at the author's impartiality and his 
skill in concealhig his hkes and dislikes. Not only 
the chief characters, but also the secondary person- 
ages drawn with merely a few touches, were living 
beings, created by a highly gifted artist. 

' Virgin Soil ' I did not like at all. In the first 
part there is much that is natural, and the types 
are true ; but the second part is evidently not tlie 
result of observation, but founded on information 
and conjecture wliich Turgenieff received at third 
hand. I used bad language, I confess, when I 



read the second part ; not that the subject shocked 
me — not at all ; for I am of opinion that in the 
hands of a great genius anything can be the subject 
of artistic representation, assuming that this great 


genius is acquainted with the subject on which he 

To illustrate my meaning I will take the well- 
known French novelist Zola. Some of his novels, 
e.g. ^ L'Assommoir,' move in an atmosphere of truth, 
and are remarkable for the correctness of the 


types ; others, like ' Nana,' are weaker. The 
author is blamed for the filth described in the 
latter ; but I am far from agreeing to that, because 
in my opinion the representation of certain strata 
of society is impossible if certain explanations are 
not made and certain pictures drawn ; at any rate, 
it is important for the history of the development 
of the human race that all sides of contemporary 
life should be examined and described. What I 
find fault with in Zola is that he did not know the 
stratum of society which he describes in * Nana ' at 
all ; and, as he only grasped its more superficial 
and prominent features and coarseness, he was not 
able to investigate and reproduce the internal 
connection of the phenomena ; he piles one de- 
formity on another, and astonishes the reader, but 
does not convince him. 

Passing from these observations to Zola's means 
and materials, I must observe that it was impos- 
sible that he should know the so-called demi- 
monde. He leads a very retired life, and only 
once looked into the boudoir of a luxurious 
cocotte while she was absent in order to be able 
to describe her bedroom. Ivan Sergeievitch told 
me that he noticed at a party, where the author of 
' Nana ' was to read, how his friend became more 
and more nervous and pale as the number of the 


guests increased, and that he even trembled. 
' What is the matter with 3^ou, my dear friend ? ' 
asked TurgenieiF. ' I confess,' answered Zola, 
' that I have never yet had an opportunity of being 
in a circle of ladies in whose presence one has to 
be circumspect.' Now, is it conceivable that an 
author who knows the world so little should be 
able to describe the private life of the aristocracy, 
their manners, their society, &c. ? 

I return to 'Virgin Soil,' to observe that a 
similar ignorance of the society described, only in 
quite another sphere, struck me in the second part 
of this novel. Here nothing is from nature, no- 
thing is founded on observation : everything is out 
of his head, as artists say. 

It was in the year 1876, if I am not mistaken, 
that I took rooms in a small hotel in Paris belonging 
to a Eussian, W. I do not know whether he knew 
Ivan Sergeievitch, or wanted to make his acquaint- 
ance when occasion offered, but he once asked me 
if I was acquainted with Turgenieff. ' By name,' I 
said, ' I have certainly known him a long time, and 
have a high opinion of his works.' A few days 
afterwards W. showed me a letter. ' Do you know 
the handwriting ? ' ' No, it is not known to me.' 


' It is a letter from Turgenieff, in which he says that 
he would be glad to make your acquaintance ; go 
and see him when you like.' I replied that I should 
certainly not go, as I did not like begging for 
acquaintance with celebrated people. I enjoined 
him not to write any more such letters in my name. 

After the Turkish war the painter Bogoliuboff 
remarked casually, ' There is a man who wants to 
know you very much indeed.' ' Who is it ? ' 
' Ivan Sergeievitch Turgenieff.' I was heartily 
pleased, and sent a request that he would visit me 
at any time that suited him. When this cherished 
guest came to Maisons-Laffitte, I frankly confess 
that I wanted to fall on his neck and tell him how 
deeply I admired and respected him. But it was 
not to be. I was obliged to introduce a friend, 
General S., who was present, and we only ex- 
changed a few commonplace friendly words. 
Turgenieff looked at my work with great interest. 
Two or three pictures of the Turkish war were 
already begun. He was particularly pleased with 
my picture of the transport of the wounded, and 
he gave a name to each of the soldiers represented 
in the picture. 'That is Nikifor, from Tambofi*; 
that is Sidoroff, from Nijni, etc' 

282 verestChagin 

Ivan Sergeievitch paid me two more visits 
afterwards, and brought with him his friend 
Oniegin, who visited the author during his last ill- 
ness more frequently than the rest of us. 

I also went to see Turgenieff several times. 
At the time of my first visit he was suffering from 
gout. Even then the attacks of the malady were 
evidently very violent, as could be seen from his 
extremely exhausted and weak appearance after 
each attack. 

Turgenieff treated his visitors with remarkable 
amiability and kindness ; inquired sympathetically, 
even during his illness, after the works which 
were in hand, and those which were to come, and 
spoke modestly and sincerely about himself, in a 
refined voice, and with a good-natured smile on 
his face: 

It rather seemed to me, and I think I was not 
mistaken, that after the ovations which were given 
him in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Ivan Sergeie- 
vitch became a little more self-conscious. In his 
letters he now wrote ' Dear,' instead of ' Honoured,' 
but he always remained friendly and ready to help 
as far as lay in his power. When I exhibited my 
works in Paris, he first helped me to find a place 


for the exhibition, and then introduced nie to the 
Paris pubUc by a few hnes in the ' XIX. Siecle.' 

He helped, moreover, not only with advice, but 
with material assistance, all who applied to him. 
He gave help in money to many young men who 
were forced to leave Russia and 'Nihilized,' as 
one of them expressed it, in Paris. (I drew Ivan 
Sergeievitch's attention to this characteristic ex- 
pression, and he laughed heartily at it.) 

The assistance which he gave to the emigrants, 
]iis free and independent way of thinking, and, 
above all, the publication of the narrative of a 
youth who, owing to a misunderstanding, spent 
four years in prison, caused Turgenieff to be con- 
sidered a Red Republican in the upper circles in 
St. Petersburg. In 1880 he took an opportunity 
of telling me, with evident uneasiness, that Prince 
Orloff had visited him, and brought him an order 
to return to Russia. I was sincerely convinced 
that there was nothing in it, and that there could 
be nothing, and told him so with confidence, but I 
remember that his anxiety did not disappear. In 
fact, nobody at St. Petersburg molested him, and 
the order he had received was probably only 
intended as a warning. 



The fact that Turgenieff was intending to write 
a great novel, and had already begun it, I first 
learnt from his friend the well-known German 
critic Pietsch, and afterwards from himself ; after 
his death I was told that he had sketched a novel 
which treated of the intellectual movement amoncr 
the Eussian youth of modern times. Its purport 
was said to be as follows : A cultivated young 
Eussian lady becomes acquainted in Paris with a 
young Frenchman, a Eadical, and is intimate with 
him, but afterwards leaves him to join a represen- 
tative of Eussian Eadicalism, whose views and con- 
victions are exactly opposed to those which the 
Frenchman holds on the same questions. 

Judging from his last works, not excepting 
'Clara Mihtch,' one is forced to the conclusion 
that the talent of the author of 'Fathers and 
Sons ' can hardly have risen to its former height. 
Certainly even in his last works we meet with 
many beautiful thoughts and masterly sketches, 
but as a rule his characters no longer have their 
former quiet attractiveness nor their former fresh- 
ness and life. 

The impression left by his smaller works, e.g. 
by the 'Poems in Prose,' is for the most part a 
depressing one. They constantly remind me of 
the phrase with which he once answered me when 


I asked how he was : ' I am beginning to feel the 
gloom of death,' 

Even such reminiscences as the story of 
' Mishka ' are, as far as type of characters go, far 
behind ' The Sportsman's Diary.' The former tale 
(' Mishka ') I heard from the author's lips, and it 
then made an incomparably greater impression 
upon me than when I read it later. 

I knew that Turgenieff recited- well, but latterly 
he was always tired, began to speak lazily and 
against the grain, and only grew slightly more 
lively when he threw himself into his part. On 
this occasion, when, in reciting the story of 
' Mishka,' he came to the passage where Mishka 
leads a whole company of dancing beggars, Ivan 
Sergeievitch got up briskly from his chair, made 
gestures with his hands, and began to dance a 
Eussian trepak — and how he did dance it ! He bent 
his knees and sang, ' Tra-ta-ta-ta-ta ! Tra-ta-ta ! ' 
He seemed forty years younger as he bent himself; 
and how he moved his shoulders this way and 
that ! His grey locks fell over his face, which was 
rosy, beaming, and happy. I was delighted with 
him, and could not refrain from clapping my hands 
and calling out, ' Bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! ' He did 
not seem in the least tired, for as long as I sat with 
him he continued his lively recitation. And yet 



that was shortly before disease clutched him in its 
claws, as he expressed it. Now, when I know that 
already at that time two vertebrae were attacked 
by cancer, I cannot think of that hour without 

I was myself suffering from a severe attack of 
illness in the spring of 1882, when I learnt that 
TurgeniefF was seriously ill. As soon as I could 
get up, at the beginning of the summer, I drove 
to see him. I called out to him from the stairs. 
' What is the meaning of this ? How can anybody 
be ill so long ? ' Entering the room, I saw the 
same kindly smile and heard the same refined 
voice. ' What is to be done ? Sickness holds me 
fast, and will not let me go.' There was no decided 
change in Ivan Sergeievitch since the day I had 
seen him dance, and that misled me : I was firmly 
convinced that he would recover, and told every- 
body so who asked me. 

Turgenieff was very lively, and although he 
complained of constant and very severe neuralgic 
pains in his chest and back, yet he begged me to 
stay with him, told stories with animation, raising 
himself up in bed and laughing a great deal. 
Among other things, we talked of literature and 


his own writings. Ivan Sergeievitch expressed 
his great respect for Leff Tolstoi's talent, but 
added : ' What Tolstoi has not got is poetry : it 
is completely wanting in his productions.' I did 
not refrain from expressing my opinion, which was 
the reverse of his, and mentioned as examples 
the highly poetical creations of ' The Cossacks,' 
' Polikushka,' and others. Turgenieff seemed to 
keep to his own opinion, but did not discuss it 

LavrofT, a well-known character, who had been 
lately banished from France, was in tlie room 
when I came to pay my visit. When he had 
taken his departure, Turgenieff asked me not to 
tell anybody that I had seen LavrofT, and told 
me a curious little piece of French administra- 
tion. L. was banished from France, but, after 
much protesting, the prefect of police summoned 
Turgenieff and asked him about L. Turgeniefi* 
could only tell him that L. was the most harmless 
of men, although an idealist who was easily 
carried away. ' We believe you,' said the prefect, 
and L. received secret permission to come to 
France, one might almost say through TurgeniefT's 


I still believe to-day, as I did then in talking 
to Turgenieff, that he was wrong in assigning him- 
self a too modest place among Eussian authors. 
Bielinski, to be sure, did not think highly of him ; 
but that may be explained by the fact that Tur- 
genieff had not then attained maturity and had 
too much scientific cultivation for a Eussian 
genius ; while Bielinski, who well knew the want 
of finish in the native diamonds, did not quite 
understand the combination in one person of a 
literary genius of the first rank and a serious 
Hegelian. In cultivation Turgenieff certainly stood 
above all our authors. As regards power, he is 
perhaps behind some others ; but in the fulness 
and loftiness of his creative genius he ranks next 
to Pushkin and LefF Tolstoi. The plot of a story — 
a matter which many think unimportant, but which, 
in my opinion, is the most difficult part of the 
work of creation, and in which but few succeed — is 
almost always good in Turgenieff. It seems easier 
to sketch characters than to make them act 
according to life, and die naturally. Gogol, for 
instance, has a great gift for delineating character, 
but is weak in inventing plots ; and expressive as 
a large number of his characters appear when 
taken singly, the whole course of the action is 
correspondingly weak ; only children and half- 


educated people can treat seriously the story of 
the ' Dead Souls ' which are to be transported to 
the government of Chersson or some other country, 
or the deeds of ' Eevisor,' &c. Moreover, the fact 
must not be disregarded that such talent, if we 
take the above-mentioned Gogol as an example, 
is one-sided : by the side of a negative type of 
character, which is strikingly powerful and true to 
nature, he places a positive type which is absolutely 
false and perfectly worthless. 

With Turgenieff it is different. To be just, 
it must be confessed that the characters in the 
•' Diary of a Sportsman,' though they show great 
insight, nevertheless rank lower than those aston- 
ishing characters of Gogol's ; but they live and 
act in a rational manner — no invisible power 
forces them into actions and vaudeville intrigues, 
which are repugnant to a healthy human under- 
standing. Further, Turgenieff, as has been said 
before, is successful not only with this or that 
favourite type of character, but all his personages, 
insipid and sensible, clever and stupid, fathers and 
children — all are equally true, and defined witli 
equal clearness. 

I repeat — in the completeness and the elevation 
of his genius he has, in my opinion, very few equals 
besides Pushkin and Leff Tolstoi ; none perhaps, 



except Lermontofi*, in his prose. The characters 
in the latter's poems are indistinct and not at all 

But let us return to Turgenieff's illness. 
During the last visit I paid him (the one men- 
tioned above) he complained sadly that he could 
not travel to Eussia. ' Why,' I asked, ' do you 
want to go to Eussia now ? You ought first to get 
well, quite well, here.' ' Quite true, but there I 
could go on with my work ; I have something in 
my head which can only be written there.' He 
shook his head significantly. 

TurgeniefF was ill all through the autumn and 
winter. I had no opportunity of speaking to any 
of the doctors who were attending him, and thought 
that his illness was not fatal. 

Once, when I was in Eue de Douai, I wrote a few 
words asking about his state, and sent the note 
up to him ; but the servant brought it back. M. 
TurgeniefF was lying down, and was unable to read. 
The blinds were drawn down. He asked for my 
name. I understood that his condition was serious, 
and went away so as not to disturb him. 

On my return from my second tour in India I 
inquired again. He was very ill, and no one was 


admitted. When I came back from Moscow I met 
Oniegin, whom I have mentioned before, and learnt 
from him that not only Ivan Sergeievitch's months 
but his days were numbered. I drove to Bougival, 
where he then was. On the way, his figure as it 
had formerly been rose up before my eyes ; but 
when I entered the room, intending to begin the 
conversation with a joke as of old, the words stuck 
in my throat. On the couch, his body contorted 
with suffering, lay Turgenieff, but apparently not 
the one I had known, not the majestic figure with 
the beautiful head, but a little man, emaciated, 
as yellow as wax, with sunken eyes, and sad, life- 
less expression. 

He seemed to perceive the painful impression 
he made, and immediately began to talk of dying, 
saying that there was no hope, &c. ' We two,' he 
added, ' are different in character. I was always 
weak ; you were strong and decided.' Tears came 
into my eyes ; I tried to contradict him, but Ivan 
Sergeievitch interrupted me irritably : ' For God's 
sake, leave off trying to console me, Vassily 
Vassilievitch : I am not a child, and can estimate my 
position. My malady is incurable ; I suffer to such 
an extent that I call upon death a hundred times 
a day. I do not fear parting from life, and regret 
nothing ; one or two friends, whom one does not 

V 2 


exactly love, but to whom one has grown accus- 
tomed .' 

I took up his tone a little ; but when I admitted 
that he had got worse, I heard Oniegin, who was 
present, hastily correct me — ' How could one help 
lookincf worse after such a lono^ illness ? ' I com- 
prehended that caution was to be used, and main- 
tained that where there was no directly fatal disease 
death was not unavoidable, and that he was not yet 
of the age when one must die. ' You are only sixty- 
five, are you ? ' ' Sixty-four,' he corrected me, and 
began again to ' oppose what I said, but received 
my words of consolation more calmly ; one could 
see that they were not unpleasant to him, and that 
he himself had still some hope. 

He asked me about my work, where I was, and 
where I intended to travel. I told him that I was 
going to take the waters, and should reappear again 
in a month — ' I give you a month's respite ; if you 
do not recover in that time, beware : you will have 
to reckon with me.' Ivan Sergeievitch smiled at 
this threat. ' If you come in a month, in three or 
six months, you will still find me in the same con- 

I took the liberty of warning him against the 
frequent use of morphia ; if narcotics were abso- 
lutely necessary, he should at any rate use it alter- 


nately with chloral. ' I should be very glad ; but 
what is to be done ? When the pains are excru- 
ciating one is ready to take anything in the world 
to lessen them.' 

That day Turgenieif was dressed, as he had 
tried a drive ; but driving over paved streets tired 
him. He soon came back, and was then intending 
to retire to his bed. That was the last time he 
went out of the house. 

Ouiegin, with whom I went away, told me as 
we went, ' TurgeniefF does not know that lie will 
not live even as long as he says. I have heard from 
Doctor Bielogolofy that all his blood-vessels are 
giving way.' 

About a month later I returned. Ivan Sergeie- 
vitch lay in his bed. He had grown yellower and 
more withered ; there was no doubt that he was 
dying. I had read in the Eussian papers that he 
was better and drove out, and in that belief I went 
to him. 

He introduced me to his old friend Toporoff, 
who was sitting by his bedside. ' You are better^ 
I hear? You take drives? ' 

' Oh,' groaned the sick man, ' what kind of in>- 
provement is this, and how can I, chained to my 


bed, think of drives ? Who told you that ? ' 'I 
read it in the paper.' ' Can one believe what the 
papers say ? See how I look ! ' 

' I know,' he began, when we were alone, ' that 
I shall not live to see the New Year.' ' How do 
you know that ? ' ' I see it in everything, feel it 
myself, and gather it from the doctor's words also ; 
they intimate that I should put my affairs in order.' 
It seemed odd to me that the doctors, who, as far 
as I knew, constantly gave him hopes, as well as all 
those around him, should say that to him. Tur- 
genieff'did not make that remark without cause, as 
I learnt later. 

I was just going to reply to him with ' What 

can we do ? We must all come to that ' but 

when I saw how his dying eyes looked pene- 
tratingly at me awaiting my answer I suppressed 
these words and said, ' Even doctors can be mis- 
taken.' I quoted Count Chambord as an example, 
to whom the doctors foretold a certain death, and 
whose condition improved — an example which was, 
to be sure, a very unfortunate one, as Count Cham- 
bord actually did die soon afterwards. Turgenieff, 
however, listened attentively : one could see that 
he had by no means lost all hope, and that he 
wished others should hope also. He regretted 
that he had not been able to do all that was neces- 



sary. 'You say you have not done anything?* 
' Not that — you do not understand me : I am speak- 
ing of my afiairs, which I did not put in order at 
the right time.' ' But that can be easily remedied.' 
' No, that is impossible. My estate,' he continued 
in a low voice, ' has not yet been sold. I have 
always been meaning to sell it, but was always 
undecided and put it off.' ' Of course it was hard 
for you to part with it.' ' Yes, it was hard ; but if 
I die now the estate will go to God knows whom,' 
and he shook his head sadly. 

I thought he was troubled about his daughter, 
whom I had once met at his house and become 
acquainted with. She is a very pretty woman of a 
slight form, a brunette, very like her father, and 
married to a Frenchman, whose circumstances had 
not been very brilliant latterly. As I learnt after- 
wards, however, he was troubled because it was 
not possible for him to bestow all his property on 
the person for whom he had cherished a special 
affection almost all his life. 

Ivan Sergeievitch inquired with the greatest 
interest about my family, my wife, my late parents, 
and my brothers. At the beginning of our con- 
versation he asked his attendant, Madame Arnold, 
to make an injection of morphia. She did it, 
and asked him if he would not have breakfast. 


' What is there ? ' ' Salmon.' He seemed to con- 
sider, raised his hand to his head, and thought a 
long time. 

' Well, give me some salmon, at any rate, and 
some soft-boiled eggs.' One could see that he still 
had some appetite. ' How is your digestion ? ' 'I 
digest nothing, so I will eat this salmon and take 
the consequences.' 

I again spoke of morphia and begged him not 
to inject too much. ' It does not matter,' he said ; 
' my complaint is incurable, I know.' After men- 
tioning the scientific name of his complaint, he 
added : ' Take a medical dictionary : look it up. 
There you will find it put down in plain terms as 
'■' incurable."' 

' In a week's time I shall pay you another visit.' 
* Come ; but take care : if you come in two weeks' 
time they will be carrying me out feet foremost.' 

As I left him I held up my finger threateningly 
and called out, ' Beware of too much morphia.' 
With a smile he nodded his head in sign of agree- 
ment, and followed me with a sad look, which 
stayed in my memory. It happened as he said : 
almost exactly two weeks later he was a corpse. 

And how much he wished to live! 


The impression I received from my last visit 
was so sad that I did not go again for four days. 

It was afternoon, and Ivan Sergeievitch was 
asleep, having just had an injection of morphia. 
I sat in the next room, a modest, comfortable 
apartment arranged in bachelor fashion — a writing- 
table, a Turkish divan, many pictures on the walls, 
chiefly by Eussian artists, and a not particularly 
successful portrait of Turgenieff himself. 

I conversed with Madame Arnold, who had 
taken care of the invalid for a long time. She 
said that they still hoped for his recovery, that the 
doctors had different opinions about the disease, 
and that she personally was made most uneasy 
by the fact that the gout had totally disappeared 
from the feet, and consequently must have gone 
higher. I had heard the patient himself talk about 
that even at the beginning of his illness; he said 
plainly that he felt the gout already in the region 
of the heart. At my last visit he said, complaining 
of the diminution of his strength, ' If you were 
only to see my feet — ^justlook — nothing but bones.' 
I decided not to look, for my late father came 
into my mind, whose feet had completely withered 
before his death. Madame Arnold declared that 
nobody had ever advised Turgenieff to arrange his 
affairs, and that it was only a stratagem on his part 


to discover my opinion of his condition, because 
he suspected that the people round him had agreed 
to soothe him by conceahng the truth. However, 
it is improbable that his regret was quite unfounded ; 
he had probably been urged by somebody or other 
to arrange his affairs more quickly. Madame 
Arnold also told me that many Paris celebrities 
visited Ivan Sergeievitch, among others Emil 
Augier. ' C'est un auteur dramatique tres-connu,' 
she added by way of explanation ; ' he came lately 
to read a new piece.' 

I will here mention that I seldom heard Tur- 
genieff express an opinion about either past or 
present celebrities. He once spoke of A. S. Push- 
kin in a very reverent and serious tone ; the ex- 
pression of his face at that moment was very like 
the portrait which is prefixed to the complete 
edition of his works ; he wrinkled his brow and 
raised his fore-finger significantly. I remember, 
among other things, his telling me a story about 
Victor Hugo, which shows that the poet was not 
very well read — ' We were talking of Goethe ; 
Hugo disagreed with me, and attacked Goethe 
for his " Wallenstein." ''But, Maitre," I said, 
" ' Wallenstein ' was not written by Goethe, but by 
Schiller." " Oh, well, it's all the same," answered 


Hugo, and began to talk at random, to conceal his 

Madame Arnold also told me that Tiirgenieff 
was much agitated by a letter which he wrote 
from his deathbed to Leff Tolstoi, begging him not 
to lay down his pen, but to continue to use it in 
the service of his country — ' I was sitting by the 
table when lie called me ; he gave me a piece of 
paper on which he had written in pencil, and said : 
" Please send this off at once : it is very, very 
urgent." ' 

I was laid up by a very violent cold, and went 
into hospital, so that I was not able to drive to 
Bougival for eight or ten days. 

' M. Turgenieff is very ill,' the servant said as I 
entered the house ; ' the doctor has just gone ; 
he thought my master would not live through the 
day.' Was it possible? I went quickly into the 
little house — not a soul anywhere ; I went up the 
stairs — no one there either. The whole Viardot 
family were sitting in their room ; there was 
also a Eussian there — Prince Meshtchersky, who 
sometimes visited Turgenieff, and had been sitting 
by him for the last three days with the Viardots. 
They came round me and told me that the invalid 


was hopelessly ill and that the end was not far 

' Go and see him.' ' No, I will not disturb him.' 
' You will not disturb him, for he lies in the death- 
agony.' I entered the room. Ivan Sergeievitch 
lay on his back, his arms stretched out and pressed 
close to his body, his eyes almost closed, his mouth 
terribly wide open ; and his head, sunk far back, a 
little turned to the left, rose at each breath : some- 
thing evidently was choking the sick man ; he 
wanted something ; he could not breathe. I could 
not bear the sight, and burst into tears. 

The death-struggle had begun some hours be- 
fore ; the end seemed near. The other members 
of the household went to breakfast, and I remained 
by the bedside with Madame Arnold, who constantly 
moistened the sick man's dry tongue. 

The sitting-room wore a desolate aspect ; a 
servant was bustling about the room, dusting and 
sweeping without pity, and talking loudly with the 
other servants as they went to and fro. One could 
see that there was no longer any reason for con- 

In a low voice Madame Arnold told me that 
Turgenieff had taken leave of everybody the evening 
before, and immediately after began to wander. 
I had already heard from Meshtchersky that the 



delirium probably came on when Ivan Sergeievitch 
began to talk Eussian. Nobody, of course, among 
those round him understood him, and they all 
asked, ' Qu'est-ce qu'il dit? ' ' Farewell, my dear 

ones,' murmured Turgenieff. ' My ' ' I cannot 

at all understand that last expression,' observed 
Meshtchersky ; ' it seems to me as if Ivan Ser- 
geievitch thought himself a Russian paterfamilias 
taking leave of his family and household.' 

Twice a sad moan came from Turgenieff 's lips ; 
he turned his head a little and moved it straight. 
His hands did not stir once during a whole hour. 
His breathing became slower and weaker. I in- 
tended to stay till the last moment, but Mesh- 
tchersky begged me in the name of the Viardot 
family to go to Doctor Brouardel and tell him what 
I had seen, or, in the event of his absence, to leave 
a letter describing the patient's condition. I 
took the letter, and touched for the last time Ivan 
Sergeievitch's hand, which was already growing 

An hour later Turgenieff was dead. 

Not finding Doctor Brouardel at home, I left the 
letter for him ; the doctor did not come till the 
third day. I telegraphed to two intimate acquaint- 



ances of the deceased, Oniegin and Prince Orloff. 
I wished also to send the news to our distant home ; 
but as I could not count myself among the friends 
of the deceased, I did not think I was justified 
in sending news of this national grief in my own 

At the end of this book of sketches I ven- 
ture to add some reflections upon various matters 
suggested by travel, that good schoolmaster — a 
few words first about Siberia, the frontier of 
China, &c., then about creeds and religions, &c. 



It is remarkable that the idea of the great Siberian 
railway has not yet been realized. After the many 
resolutions which have been arrived at with regard 
to this railway, people seem to be once more ask- 
ing whether there is really any such hurry. When 
years have gone by, people will be astonished at 
this delay. In the meantime, in consequence of 
the great distance and the isolation, this territory 
has remained a hundred years behind, and sighs 
under the burden of all possible abuses. 

A Siberian once said to me, 'You in Eussia 
have many laws, but we in Siberia have only two : 
the twenty- five-rouble law and the hundred-rouble 
law.' The very expression of the Siberian, ' you 
in Russia,' is extremely characteristic, and shows 
clearly the isolation of the territory. This ex- 
pression, to be sure, is also heard in Turkestan, in 
the Caucasus, and in the Baltic and PoHsh pro- 
vinces ; but what has some meaning there seems 
simply incomprehensible in the mouth of an 
inhabitant of Siberia, which has a purely Russian 



poi)ulation. If not in the interest of agriculture 
and of trade, then for the development of the gold 
industry, so dear to administrative minds, a win- 
dow looking towards Siberia ought to be hewn out 
instead of the present wretched air-hole which goes 
by the name of the Siberian road. 

This road is not safe, but, on the contrary, full 
of holes. Lucky are those who travel directly the 
sleigh-track is established, for they get on in a 
more or less human fashion. But if in the summer 
one gets into the worn- out tracks, or in winter into 
the holes, then it is time to make your will. 
There is only one thing to be done then : to do 
your best to fall into a lasting torpor. 

I twice had occasion to travel on the Siberian 
road — once from, and once back to Omsk, where 
one turns off to go to Turkestan. On both occa- 
sions I drove post. I often went four hundred 
versts in twenty-four hours, but then it also hap- 
pened that we went round in a circle in a snow- 
storm the whole night, and I awoke the next morn- 
ing, almost frozen, two versts from the station from 
which we had started. One can freeze, too, with- 
out a snowstorm and without wind. I remember 
once going to sleep when there were twenty- 
five degrees (Eeaumur) of frost, but no wind, and 
awaking with frost-bitten ears, nose, and chin. The 


postmaster, an old Cossack, observed: 'Father, 
your nose is frost-bitten.' ' Impossible ! ' ' Good 
heavens ! and your ears too ! Allow me to rub 
them with goose-fat, then it will pass off.' And so, 
in fact, it did. 

All kinds of things happen on this road, and 
one has to endure all kinds of discomfort. Out 
of my many experiences I will only quote two 
or three specimens. 

One summer's night, which was so dark that I 
could not see my liand before my eyes, I arrived at 
a station. We called for horses. The post-horses, 
which had been standing perhaps a fortnight with- 
out work, were so fresh that two people had to 
hold each of them while they were being har- 
nessed. I did not leave the tarantass, for I had 
fastened the leather apron tight about me and 
lay half-asleep. At last everything is ready ; the 
yamshtchik (postilUon), with his cheeks bound up, 
takes his seat on the box ; the men spring aside, 
the horses rear, and off we go at a mad pace. It 
seems to me in my sleep as if we were not going 
straight, but in a circle, and I also hear the de- 
spairing exclamations of the yamshtchik — 'The 
devil take it, I liave forgotten the right rein ! ' 



Having started with one rein, he pulled with all his 
might, so that we really described a circle. It 
gradually dawned upon me that on the way to the 
station we had driven up a hill, and that we were 
now rushing madly down it at a furious speed. 
It was a bad look-out. To jump out was the only 
thing to be done. I try to undo the apron, but 
do not succeed, for it is fastened with several 
buttons, not only on the inside but also on the out- 
side. I try to tear it, but that won't do at all ; 
the tarantass had been lately bought in Kasan, and 
the apron was new. I sit down again in my seat 
and resign myself to my fate. In the meantime 
the horses had described a circle, had got back 
into the old road, and were again tearing down the 
hill. It is difficult to say how long that lasted — 
probably not long ; but I remember that the time 
did not seem short. At last deliverance came. 
The three horses with the tarantass flew at full 
speed head over heels into a ditch. I lie stretched 
out in a puddle ; upon me — on my back, my feet,, 
and even on my head — lie my boxes and trunks ; 
and on the top of them the carriage, with the 
wheels upwards. When they set me free I 
groaned — more from fright than from any other 
reason, for I had come off w^ith scratched face and 
hands. Of course I gave vent to my annoyance. 


The horses were re-harnessed, and this time 
properly. I again lay in a half sleep. 

On another occasion — it was by daylight — on 
leaving the station I was obliged to cross a little 
bridge, at which the road, with a sharp turn, goes 
steeply up-hill. Already at the station the horses 
had behaved as if mad ; on the bridge the 
yamshtchik still held them in a little ; but further 
on his power came to an end, and the horses 
rushed up the hill — not on the road, however, but 
on a high mound by the side of it. When the 
horses had gone three quarters of the way up the 
hill, they toppled back with the tarantass. And 
again I escaped without injury ; at most a blue 
mark or a slight grazing of the skin. 

I was once driving on a winter's night in a little 
post-kibitka through a region which was not quite 
safe. The sleigh was well covered, and I was com- 
fortably asleep. We suddenly halted. Was any- 
thing the matter ? No ; some one gets into the 
sleigh and seats himself between me and the yam- 
shtchik. I raise the hood a little : close opposite to 
me sits a bearded man. I open it as wide as I 

X 2 

3o8 verestcHagin 

can and creep forwards. He seizes hold of me. 
' What do you want ? ' ' I am forced . . .' As far 
as I could see, it was a powerful peasant with a 
large beard and a tall hat, his face half concealed. 
It was either a robber or a madman. 

My first impulse was to seize my pocket revolver 
and shoot him. But it flashed across me, ' What 
if he is a madman ? ' and without further considera- 
tion I seized the fellow by the collar with my left 
hand and struck him in the face with the revolver. 
It cannot have been a bad blow, for the revolver 
broke, and the fellow flew into the snow, putting 
his hands to his face. 'Go on,' I called out to 
the yamshtchik. ' Why did you stop and let him 
get in ? ' 'He called out " Stop ! " and got in. I 
thought he belonged to you.' A good explanation ! 
' But now go on.' On I go again once more, half 

Not till the next morning, three stages further 
on, did I tell my adventure to the inspector as I 
was having my tea. ' Why,' he asked, ' did you 
not tell them that at the station ? The yamshtchik 
was in league with the fellow. They would have 
robbed the sleigh and put an end to you. The 
people here are a lawless set.' 

The station-master, who entertained me with 
good cabbage-soup, omelet, and tea, was extremely 


amiable, as, indeed, a great number of his colleagues 
are if one does not abuse them. 

When he learnt my name from the passport he 
turned to me with the words, ' Allow me to ask 
you a question : Are you not engaged in the pre- 
paration of cheese ? ' ' No ; that is my brother/ 
'Oh, we have heard of it — they say it ought to 
be introduced here ; but allow me to remark that 
the cheeses which are now made are no good for 
Russians, in my opinion. If one is drinking spirits 
a pickled gherkhi or an anchovy tastes better ; if it 
must be cheese, then a strong one. I was in town 
in the winter and ate some cheese there for lunch. 
The tears came into my eyes, I can tell you, when I 
put it into my mouth, and my cheek even swelled 
up. That is what I call cheese — that is to our 
taste. But the horses are ready.' 

A wit once called Siberia a Polish kingdom. In 
fact, Poles are very numerous there in all parts. 
If you break a bolt or a lynch-pin on the way, or 
you want a wheel mended, a Polish smith appears. 
Such work is, however, also done by Germans and 
Russians. But if you buy a well-smoked ham or 
sausage, Polish hands are sure to have prepared it ; 
or if you get a well-dressed cutlet at an inn, then 


the cook is certainly a Shlachtits,^ or, if it is a 
woman, Shlachtitsa, who has voluntarily followed 
her husband into banishment. In the billiard- 
rooms at the inns at Omsk, which I had occasion 
to visit, nothing but Polish was .to be heard. 

Of course Eussian exiles are not lacking there, 
but on the road one meets them less often. Driv- 
ing through towns and villages, one sees old men 
with long white beards, and sticks in their hands, 
sitting idly about, or creeping along by the fences. 
I do not know how they contrive to live, but 
sometimes they do not disdain to take alms. 

At one station, while the horses were being 
put to, a tall miserable-looking old man with snow- 
white hair came up to the steps. I was about to 
get up and go out to him ; but the station-master, 
who flew out of his room like a whirlwind, prevented 
me. I hear a clatter, and see the old man hurry- 
ing away before he has had time to put his 
cap on again. ' What is the meaning of that ? 
why do you treat him so ? ' 'If you only give 
him a penny you will never get rid of him. The 
moment a traveller arrives, the old man is on the 
spot. His name is well known ; it is Baron E.' 

1 A Pole. 


It is not only for Siberia that the Siberian 
railway is important : it is almost more important 
for those countries, once the northern provinces of 
China, but now belonging to Eussia, which up to 
the present time can scarcely be reached except 
by water. 

In any case we shall have to measure our 


strength with China before very long. The an- 
nexation of Kuldsha on the eastern frontier was 
a great mistake, but a still greater mistake was 
the giving back of this province in consequence of 
China's threats. We had certainly committed a 
crying injustice ; and to confess that was not dis- 
honourable. But the misfortune is that so-called 
politics and so-called morals seldom agree. Now it 

312 verestcHagin 

looks as if Eiissia yielded Kuldsha against her will 
from fear of a war with China ; 300,000,000 Chinese 
are sincerely convinced of it, and 300,000,000 
other neighbours assuredly think the same. The 
Chinese have become more haughty and intriguing 
in their relations with Eussians ; and even if there 
w^ere not misunderstandings and constant friction 
on the frontier, the European complications would 
give the Chinese an opportunity of exhausting our 

An encounter on the eastern and north-eastern 
frontiers, however deplorable on other accounts, 
would be by no means dangerous, because a few 
Eussian battalions could press on victoriously 
almost up to the Great Wall. But on the northern 
frontier it is difierent. Here the Chinese might 
overrun and devastate the country almost un- 
checked, and the echo of their success might 
resound along our other Asiatic frontiers, par- 
ticularly among the nomads, who certainly have 
no sympathy with the Chinese, but yet might com- 
bine wdth them temporarily against the Eussians. 
Under such circumstances the consequences might 
be very serious. 

The quicker a line is carried through Siberia 
the better. 


The constant and uncontrollable extension of 
our frontier is a question of the highest importance. 
Eesolutions have again and again been made, but 
have never been carried out ; and this fact, by 
reason of the great distance of the territory, has 
passed almost without notice. Even the annexa- 
tion of large territories to Eussia attracts the 
attention of society less than the daily political 
scandals of Europe. It is time that all this were 

The Chinese maintain that the Eussians are an 
unceremonious people ; wherever they cut hay or 
water their horses they take possession of land and 
water. This, to be sure, does not apply to the 
Eussians only ; the English, for example, deserve 
this reproach even more. But still it cannot be 
denied that we too have a keen eye to our own 

Before the revolt of the Dunghans, our frontier 
near Kuldsha ran close to a mountain ridge past 
which the high road went. But between 1865 and 
1870 I found that our frontier-guard, and with it 
our frontier, had advanced as far as Borohudsir. 
If we ask what is the object of this, the answer 
is, that at Borohudsir there is a stream with good 
clear water ; therefore it is more comfortable for the 
guard to be stationed here. Later the question 


was raised whether the frontier -guard should not 
be ordered further still to the little ruined town 
of Ak-Kend ; and why ? There is a little wood 
there, and the little wood provides cool shade in 
the summer and fuel in the winter. 

The history of the conquest of Turkestan is well 
known ; every new governor thought it his duty to 
play the soldier. Turkestan, Tchenkend, and Alie- 
Ata were taken in order to form the Oxenburg and 
Siberian line of fortification ; Tashkend was thrown 
into the bargain. In this combination, Chodsend 
was left on one side, and it was quite easy to leave 
it in peace. But how leave it in peace when it is in 
a state of disorder ? So Chodsend was taken too. 
Ura-Tiube, Tchisak, Samarkand, and afterwards 
Khokand, were, in the same way, only taken be- 
cause they were in a state of disorder : there was 
no real necessity for the step. 

Since the migration of the Tarantshes into our 
territory, we have a fanatic Mohammedan popula- 
tion settled along the whole of our frontier, who 
are only waiting for a favourable moment to show 
their teeth. As long as they were under the power 
of the Khans, who lived in implacable enmity to- 
wards each other, they were far less dangerous 
than now. when they can turn against their com- 
mon enemy on the first good opportunity. In this 



case, we have created a national union, which did 
not exist before. 

There would be some sense in this terribly 
expensive territorial aggrandizement if it were to 
serve as a demonstration against European enemies. 
But even if our advance southwards could be more 
or less justified by such a policy, it was incompre- 


hensible why the frontier was extended eastwards, 
where, if the advance goes on at its present rate, 
we shall undoubtedly be far beyond Kuldsha in no 
very long time. We can only hope that this result 
may be put off as long as possible. To prevent 
it from taking place seems impossible after what 
has previously occurred. It is almost as if some 
occult natural force were urging us onwards. I 



am here unconsciously reminded of the emigrants 
from the government of TambofF, whom I met by 
the lake of Issyk-Kul in Thiang-Shang. The women 
had already tried more than once to persuade their 
husbands to stop and settle ; but the peasants re- 
fused : they would go on without knowing whither. 
At last they came to the snow-mountains wliich 
encompass Issyk-Kul on the east. The women ex- 
claimed joyfully, with outstretched hands: ' God be 
thanked ! now our husbands will stop ; they cannot 
go any farther.' 



In the course of my many long journeys I have 
had opportunity of becoming acquainted with the 
representatives of various rehgions. All naturally 
think their religion is the only true one — the one 
which leads to happiness in this life, and to salva- 
tion and blessedness in the life to come ; and all 
religions look upon each other with intolerance 
and contempt. With respect to intolerance, it is 
hard indeed to decide which religion bears the 
palm. One might be inclined to suppose that 
the bolder and more improbable the hypothesis 
which underlies a religion the greater would be 
the forbearance which the unbelieving opponents 
might claim ; but in reality nearly the reverse is 
the case. 

The contradiction between a doctrine and its 
practical application is very glaring in the case of 
such religions as Buddhism, for instance, which 
rests on contemplation, and Christianity, which was 
based by its great Founder upon love of one's 
neighbour. The first split into two chief sects and 



several small communities, which openly confess 
their dislike of each other ; the Christian Church 
broke up into three large Churches, besides a 
number of smaller bodies, all of which take up 
a hostile and contemptuous attitude towards one 

This antagonism appears nowhere with such 
vigour as in Palestine, and particularly in Jerusalem, 
at the very spots which are associated with the life 
and sufleringof the Great Teacher of peace and love. 
The Christian Churches there take pains to do each 
other mischief, not only by speech and by writing, 
but also by sheer force, by downright violence. At 
all the holy places — from Bethlehem, where Christ 
w^as born, to the temples of Golgotha and of the 
Holy Sepulchre, w^here He was crucified and buried 
— there is disputing, abusive language, and even 
fighting, on the smallest provocation ; they hack 
at one another, and use as weapons not only 
church candlesticks and the heavy wax tapers, but 
also swords and firearms. At the holy places of 
Christendom there generally stands, or sits, swing- 
ing his legs, a Turkish soldier, wdth loaded gun 
and fixed bayonet, as peacemaker between the 
warring representatives of the Christian Church ! 
This, it would seem, is the only way in which we 
are at ])resent able (or likely for a loDg time to 


be able) to give practical realization to our ideal 

On journeying through the world one makes 
the discovery that abstract religious principles 
(however ideal and right they may be) are incom- 
parably more difficult to infuse into the national 
consciousness than principles of practical philo- 
sophy which are suitable to the character of the 
people, to their country and their climate, and 
which satisfy the physical as well as the moral needs 
of human nature. The preponderance of abstract 
ideas in Christianity, and of principles of practical 
philosophy in Mahomedanism, explains to a certain 
extent the eagerness of the Mahomedan to fulfil all 
the duties imposed by his religion, and the absence 
of this eagerness in the Christian. 

As an example of this, we may take two 
doctrines of Mahomedanism and of Christianity; 
which certainly present a glaring contrast. Ma-- 
homed teaches : ' Eevenge for every injury ; no for- 
bearance towards the enemy.' And the believers^ 
follow his teaching eagerly, and take revenge for 
hundreds of years on .generation after generation 
of their enemies. Christ, on the other hand,' 
says : ' Take no count of the evil that is done you, 



but return good for evil.' The Christians repeat 
His saying after Him, but do not carry out His 

We shall search in vain for Christian states or 
communities where the precepts of Christ are really 
carried out. On the other hand, it is beyond 
all doubt that Moses' saying, ' An eye for an eye, 
a tooth for a tooth,' is, like Mahomed's teach- 
ino^, more in accordance with human nature than 
the ideal precept, ' Love your enemies ; bless them 
that curse you.' The former precepts have become 
part of man's flesh and blood, and are engrained 
in his nature, which cannot be said of Christ's 

It would be unjust to maintain that religions 
have no ennobling influence upon human nature ; 
but there is no doubt that in course of time they lose 
their freshness, are tainted with formalism, and 
come to be mainly an affair of externals ; while, on 
the other hand, they contribute to the development 
of various bad qualities in their professors, such as 
hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness. Even such an 
ideal doctrine as that of Christ will then lose its 
chief charm and attractiveness, and sink into an 
instrument for the attainment of petty ends. 


In this respect the impression produced upon 
me by England — the country which stands at the 
head of the civilized world, which assuredly owes 
a great deal to Christianity, but is hampered by a 
narrow official conception of Christ's doctrine — is 
a somewhat gloomy one. Who does not know the 
deep contempt for poverty which reigns in England, 
though poverty is placed by the Gospel so higli 
above wealth ? How completely has the Christian 
doctrine of the sanctity and privacy of prayer been 
transformed ! The Englishman says practically, 
' Whether you believe or not, go to church.' Is 
not this a distortion of the Gospel.^ I am here 
forced to think of the English churches in India, 
where the high English officials, plus royalistes que 
le roi^ put on an appearance of piety, while the 
poor Indians, baking in the sun and the hot dust, 
pull great fans to and fro to waft coolness to them 
in their sham devotion. Certainly, if Christ were 
to come on the scene, He would put in practice His 
saying : ' The last shall be first, and the first last.' 

Of course it is not to England alone that these 
remarks are applicable. In a similar way a great 
portion of the Christian nations distort their reli- 
gion, which is made subordinate to various earthly 
needs and subject to the soiling of everyday life, 
and, to put it briefly, loses its sublimity. My 



meaning is very well illustrated by the words 
which I once heard from a very brave and clever 
Eussian general, who actually used rehgion as an 
instrument of discipline. ' You may say what you 
like,' the general once observed to me : ' for soldiers 
the support given by religion is of great importance. 
If the chaplain reads the troops a passage from the 
Gospel before the battle, and lets them kiss the 
cross, they march with heightened courage into 
the fight. It is as if the dread of death and 
wounds were then blown away. I applied this 

means before the assault on , and obtained 

an astonishing result. To be sure,' the general 
added, ' with a few more battalions I should have 
got on even without that ; but what are you to 
do if you have not got the battalions ? ' These 
words, I think, need no comment. 



My countrymen often reproach me for living 
more abroad than in Eussia. The reproach is just ; 
but it has always happened that just as I was 
about to pitch my nomad tent on my native 
meadows by the Volga some trifling incident made 
me pause and delayed the execution of my inten- 

I remember that I went to Turkestan un- 
willingly, because the only proper place for me 
seemed to be in Eussia, where nature and man 
present so much that is interesting to the artist. 
My journey to the Asiatic frontier was chiefly oc- 
casioned by the extremely interesting war which 
was then going on. As soon as I had acquainted 
myself with everything there 1 decided to transfer 
my impressions to canvas and then to work at 
home. With this intention I started from Paris in 
1869 for St. Petersburg, and just then one of these 
incidents liappened which made me pause. 

I had forgotten my passport somewhere or 
other, and when I got to the frontier and was 



asked for it, I was obliged to answer, whether I 
liked it or not : ' I have none : I have lost it.' 

' What ! No passport I ' The officer of gen- 
darmes examined me at once. I was then little 
known as an artist, and so the officer probably 
thought it a serious matter, for I was told to take 
my things out from the baggage-van and to wait 
for what was to come. I waited. The first bell rang, 
then the second. I declared that I must go, as other- 
wise I should forfeit my ticket. ' You will not go.' 
' What am I to do here P I cannot prove my 
identity here, whereas in St. Petersburg I can find 
any bail that may be required.' • That is not to be 
thought of : you will stay here.' ' But, for Heaven's 
sake, I am not a criminal.' ' It is quite useless to 
make any objections : you will remain at the police- 
station until information has been received about 

After the train had gone, I was taken with an 
escort to the police-station and brought before the 
district inspector, who was in a dirty bad-smelling 
room. On the table at which he sat stood a tallow 
candle burnt nearly to the socket. 

I must have looked very little like a criminal, 
for the official began to make apologies ; he did not 
know at all how to accommodate me, the cells were 
so dirty. On my asking where the room intended 


for me was, he opened the door of a dark bad- 
smelUng hole where a few ragged individuals were 
visible. ' Who are these people ? ' ' Three are 
thieves, and the fourth is accused of street-robbery.' 
I refused to enter the place. 

After some discussion I was allowed to hire a 
room at the inn, at my own expense, but I was to be 
guarded there. A fat dirty peasant in rags with a 
large knotty stick (I am not exaggerating) followed 
me. 'What does that man want?' 'He is your 
guard : he will spend the night with you.' • On 
no account,' I declared. It was then decided to 
place this watchman behind a screen straight in 
front of my door. The police-officer shut the 
window, looked carefully all round, and, wishing 
me good-night, locked the door behind him. 

Early the following day he reappeared to 
demand twenty kopecks for the peasant's services 
in guarding me (I give his very words). I paid 
them. Then a Jewish conveyance, hired at my 
expense, drove up to take me to the commandant 
of the district in the little neighbouring town of 
Vilkovishki. This man, a major, detained me a 
few hours, and then decided to transfer me to St. 

Before my departure I was allowed not only 
to dine, but to walk about tlie dirty little town 


— always accompanied, of course, by a police- 
man. Then I again hired a vehicle and drove 
with the policeman to the station, where I took a 
ticket for myself, and another for this archangel, 
and entered the train for St. Petersburg. 

On arriving at the capital I was taken straight 
to the office of the secret police, where, in the 
absence of Superintendent Trepoff, my case was 
heard by his assistant, General KoslofT. 

What most annoyed me in this stupid and 
ridiculous afiair was that General Kosloff, although 
persuaded of my unblemished reputation, would 
not allow me to find surety at once and go my 
way in peace. ' You can do that to-morrow ; for 
to-day betake yourself to the waiting-room at the 
police-station.' I was in utter despair. But an 
accident brought me help. As I was being led 
away the policeman demanded money for his return 
journey. I took out my purse and gave him some. 
'What are you giving him?' the general asked. 
' Money for his return journey,' I replied, and re- 
ported the unexpected expenses which had come 
upon me, not forgetting the watchman with his 
knotty stick. The general had compassion, but 
told the policeman to take the money. In return 
he allowed me to send at once to an acquaintance 
who lived near, who went bail for me. My friends, 


to whom I told my adventure, only laughed ; but 
it made a disagreeable impression on me. 

' Is it possible that such a stupid affair can have 
had any effect upon you ? ' my countrymen will 
ask. I must answer in the affirmative. I put the 
question seriously to myself whether unshackled 
activity was possible in a country w^here the loss 
of a scrap of paper could entail such unpleasant 
consequences, and preferred another journey to 
Central Asia, where one certainly is exposed to 
danger, but yet can breathe and paint freely. 

The second incident was still shghter, but called 
forth still uglier reflections. It was on a journey 
to my mother's estate. During the voyage on the 
Volga I was not a little astonished when our steamer 
stopped at some monastery, and monks came on 
board and held a service. Of course it did not 
occur to any one to complain of the stoppage ; but, 
as we discovered afterw^ards, in consequence of 
it we arrived at Eybinsk half an hour too late, 
and thus missed the steamer which we intended to 
take at that place. We now had to reconcile our- 
selves to a sojourn of several days in this town, which 
generally wears a quiet, melancholy, and desolate 
aspect, as all Eussian provincial towns do. But 


shortly before May, when the vessels are being laden 
with corn there, Eybinsk is turned for two months 
into one huge drinking-shop. At this season, in 
all the inns, taverns, and dens of all kinds, noise, 
shrieking, and drunkenness prevail day and night. 
The streets are filled with people w^andering about 
seeking all kinds of w^ork, making engagements, 
abusing, cursing, &c. It was just at this season 
that we were obliged to make an involuntary stay 
at Eybinsk. I had my wife with me, and on her 
account was forced to be more particular in the 
matter of quarters. But our demands could not 
be satisfied, for all the inns were crowded. In one 
only did our request for a room receive the joyful 
answer ' Certainly.' We were then taken to the 
attics, where we were shown into a hole without 
any bed or the most necessary articles of furniture. 
' Very well ; but where are we to sleep ? ' 
' Here,' answered the waiter complacently, 
pointing to an old leather sofa which was so torn 
that the stufiing was hanging out. ' I suppose you 
think we are dogs,' I retorted, and we started again 
on our search for a resting-place. We soon con- 
vinced ourselves that such a thing was really not 
to be found, and drove to the landing-stage, where 
I made the request that as we were placed in 
this unpleasant situation by the captain's fault we 


should be given quarters on the steamer. ' How 
is it our fault ? ' asked the superintendent. ' In 
contradiction to the tirae-table, the steamer stopped 
at the monastery and a service was held : this 
stoppage was unjustifiable.* These words had 
scarcely passed my lips, when the official literally 
overwhelmed me with a torrent of reproaches and 
threats. 'Wliat? What did you say? You do 
not believe in a God then ? You insult our Orthodox 
Church.' The defender of the Orthodox Church 
was evidently drunk ; but his rough behaviour, 
which attracted a number of people, was none 
the less intolerably insolent. ' Gendarmes, gen- 
darmes, here ! ' he shouted. ' What a pity that 
there is no gendarme on the spot ! otherwise you 
would learn that God is not to be insulted with 

' Give me the complaint-book.* 

' We have none.' The officials brought, laugh- 
ing, the first book they could find. ' Here is the 
complaint-book ; write what you like — paper is 
patient.' When I went to the manager of the 
landing-stage with a remonstrance, he tried to 
appease me by saying, ' Do let the matter rest. 
He is drunk; what can you expect of him?' 
' Very well ; but if he is a drunkard why do you 
keep him in your service ? He will insult others as 


he has insulted me.' ' Well, do leave it alone ; the 
matter is really not worth talking about.' And 
that is all I could get. 

I already knew from the stories told by other 
members of my profession what disagreeable treat- 
ment artists are exposed to in some regions, 
especially on the part of the preservers of order, 
and how they are generally taken for revolution- 
ists and agitators. This recurred to my mind 
after the incident just narrated, and I said to my- 
self once more that it would be well to curtail my 
visits to my native plains, and to go to some 
country which, with fewer endearing associations, 
offered greater liberty of action. 










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